Jersey City officials ask for restoration of UEZ funding to increase public safety

JERSEY CITY – Officials from New Jersey’s second largest city told the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee today that the proposed slashing of Urban Enterprise Zone funding would have major impacts on safety in business communities.

The committee is hearing testimony at New Jersey City University today on the impacts of budget cuts on public safety.

Many Hudson County municipalities are represented at the hearing by police and fire personnel, including officials from Kearny, Hoboken and Jersey City. Other towns represented include Rahway and East Orange.

“There are 60 more (public safety) cameras coming online that we signed off on years ago,” said Jersey City Police Chief Tom Comey. “We don’t know if we’ll have the personnel to watch them.”

Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, (R-16), Somerville, asked why UEZ funding was being used for municipal purposes. UEZ funding is designated for economic development in urban zones. Mayor Jerramiah Healy defended the use of the funds.

“If you don’t have a safe urban enterprise zone, you’re not going to have jobs, investments, or businesses there,” Healy said.

“In some of our larger cities, economic success has to be tied with safe streets and safe sidewalks…I think that’s perfectly legitimate. If you have a place where people are afraid to shop in or people are afraid to open a store, you’re not going to have (economic success).”

On July 1, local expenses previously funded by state UEZ funding will be transferred to the police budget, Comey said, which would create a major burden on an already financially strapped department.

Comey said he has been forced to slash his motorcycle squad by 50 percent and disband his community relations department because of funding cuts.

Jersey City Fire Chief Darren Rivers told the committee that his department needs state funding “to get back to our maximum strength.”

“We have a vibrant waterfront with a lot of high rises,” Rivers said. “During the summer we have a lot of activities…it is very important that we have the marine capabilities to protect our citizens.”

Rivers said he has had to call on the New York Police Department for waterfront rescues.

“As a state, I find that embarrassing that we have to rely on another state to assist us,” Rivers said.

 

  Jersey City officials ask for restoration of UEZ funding to increase public safety