Tuesday, October 28, 2008

~ Are Linden Taxpayers Becoming Unwitting Loan Guarantors? ~

Are Linden taxpayers becoming unwitting loan guarantors of loans taken out by the UCIA to bankroll projects by private developers?

The South Wood Avenue project is a major failure ... a project that now has no developer. If no developer comes forward and successfully completes the project, who is on deck for repayment of the bonds? We are. While properties targeted for that particular project have been bought by the UCIA, some have been demolished and others sit vacant for YEARS. We, the taxpayers, are responsible for the bonds (loans) used to bankroll that project, not to mention the eye-popping fees paid to the DeCoiitis law firm. In essence, we have become the guarantors of loans for which we have no control over. It’s one thing for a Municipality to issues bonds for capital purchases or improvements, but in this case, by naming the UCIA as the redevelopment agency, ONE person is making all the decisions, financial and otherwise. If we are unhappy with the progress or lack thereof, can we hold this person accountable by voting this person out of office? No, because this person isn’t even an elected official. She is the Executive Director of the Union County Improvement Authority and Chair of the Union County Democratic Party. I find her dual role as a power yielding political figure as well as the head of Improvement Authority disturbing for a number of reasons.

It begs the question why one person is allowed so much power? Even freeloader Sullivan admitted that the Union County Freeloader Board does not question the UCIA. Imagine that. One person in charge of tens of millions of dollars with little accountability. I carefully reviewed the minutes of the UCIA (thanks to the County Watchers site) and incredibly, there is no serious discussion or questioning by the UCIA trustees, or commissioners as they are called here. After a review of the names of the commissioners, it isn’t hard to figure out why this is so.

I am still gathering information on the Morning Star project which is another projected being bankrolled with our tax dollars. A drive by on St. George Avenue reveals not much going on there either. Assemblyman Green must be happy though. Almost a quarter of a million dollars for his dumps.

As a taxpayer, I am even more concerned of the intention of the UCIA and City to go forward with its plans to “take” the ISP property in Tremley. Remember, this entire plan was hatched under the Gregorio administration, even with the grand illusion of a NASCAR race track at one point. As with the botched South Wood Avenue project, this project will also be in the hands of the UCIA, or in reality, in the hands of Charlotte DeFillipo, the Union County Democratic Chairwoman. ISP was offered and rejected $25 million by the pet developer. If we are to continue with eminent domain, just what kind of money are we looking at here and how much will the UCIA end up paying it? The figure will probably be a lot higher than $25 million and that should be a real concern to the taxpayers, who, in effect, are the guarantors of the bonds that will be used to “take” ISP's property if this goes forward. Yet, there is no guarantee that the project will be a success or the taxpayers’ “investment” recouped.

These issues, IMO, are in the forefront of any issue confronting Linden at this time. Which candidates have the knowledge, ability and guts to fight for the taxpayers of Linden, even if it means taking on the UCIA? I doubt it will be any candidate backed by the Linden Democratic Club.

I think it’s time for our Mayor and council to take steps to see that the taxpayers aren’t made to become unwitting guarantors of loans for private developers any longer. That's what the NJ Economic Development Agency is for and that is where developers should be going to finance their projects ... not us.


Anonymous said...

you forgot the airport,gregorio towers,the library,st george ave developement,morning star, the promanade(4.5M). yes we still rent that building 750K/yr. We owe them 130Million and pay 10M/yr interest. Debt service. Plus the airport.

NFS said...

You know anon, there is just so much graft, mismanagement and waste that it's hard to keep track of it all. Maybe that's the pol's intentions ... to overwhelm the average taxpayer to the point where you throw you hands up in surrender?

$130 million in debt? That an outrageous amount.

I'm focused on the ISP crap because that's at least at a stage where something can be now.

Speaking of the promanade ... another while elephant. It's my understanding a simple donation was going to be made by the Bauer family for a park until the former administration injected itself into the mix and again, the taxpayers are footing the bill.

Thanks for your comments.

NFS said...

From in the Lobby and it works like a charm:

"Public works projects is one way to bribe the public with the public's money."

Anonymous said...

their day is coming i told you about one of the theives not holding my breath good things come to those who wait he just lead them to your crooks

NFS said...

An early Christmas gift to the taxpayers? Sounds good to me.