In the 2018 State of the City address delivered on Thursday, February 22, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop outlined plans for his second term in office. Similar to previous years, Fulop’s 2018 address — his fifth as mayor of Jersey City — continues the theme of heralding the idea of a new Jersey City, one that is better, grander, safer and less corrupt than the old Jersey City.
Telling the audience, “our success will not rest on what we have accomplished, but rather, our accomplishments will serve as a blueprint for the future of Jersey City,” Fulop’s address highlighted what residents can expect in the coming year. New park renovations, expansion of the Recreation Department services, and continued investments in infrastructure are all on deck. The full text of the speech can be read online via The Jersey Journal; key passages that bring attention to public safety, affordable housing, and the property tax revaluation, which will undoubtedly have long-term impacts on Jersey City in the near future.
Commitment to Public Safety
“The safety of our residents not only impacts our ability to effectively run our city, but it serves as the foundation for everything else that we do.”
The crux of the State of the City address touted improvements to public safety, which Fulop described as the ”fundamental building block” for Jersey City’s continued growth and prosperity. In addition to highlighting increases in police officers, a decrease in major crime statistics and new CCTV cameras, the biggest change has been the hiring of Police Chief Mike Kelly and the elimination of the department’s off-duty cop program.
Public safety initiatives for 2018 extend beyond policing. Because of community activism led by Bike JC and Safe Streets JC, Jersey City became the first city in New Jersey to adopt the Vision Zero initiative. A task force will develop a plan to eliminate traffic deaths by 2026.
Commitment to Affordable Housing
“Improving city infrastructure is not just about paving streets though, but it is also about making important investments that have the power to change the community in big ways.”
Development is booming citywide and new projects are breaking ground in every ward.
Announced in 2014 and envisioned as a major change to Bergen-Lafayette landscape, the $20 million City Hall Annex on Martin Luther King Drive will open in March. It is expected to revitalize the surrounding neighborhood. Phase II of the annex project, as Fulop stated in the address, “includes a second building next door to the current annex that will be used by both the community and city government.” Several city offices will move into the adjacent building, including the revamped affordable housing office.
The city is partnering with Jersey City Together to decide the structure of this office, aiming to bring “affordable housing development, affordable housing compliance, and tenant advocacy under one umbrella in order to better facilitate services for residents.” Jersey City Together, a coalition of more than 100 churches, non-profits, and community leaders, has led the demands to combat Jersey City’s growing concerns of unaffordability. By working with the organization, the city shows signs of taking initial steps to prioritize increasing affordable housing in Jersey City.
A Second Reval in 2019
“As a result, tonight, I am letting residents know that in the next few weeks I will be putting forward a proposal before the City Council to conduct a second revaluation next year in order to account for the impacts to the market that may occur this year.”
The most significant announcement during the State of the City pertained to the ongoing property tax reval. Jersey City’s first property tax revaluation since 1988 has placed the Fulop administration in an increasingly unfavorable position, having to explain past decisions to delay and cancel the reval to angry homeowners. The Trump tax plan limits state and local tax deductions, furthering the financial hit some homeowners will experience.
On one hand, Jersey City reval will have potentially devastating effects on longtime homeowners, who will bear the brunt of citywide property tax increases. A second revaluation would balance out the changes to real estate market caused by the first reval. In plain terms, the Mayor is suggesting properties hit with high tax increases could see a decline in value. A second reval would readjust for this decline.
On the other hand, Fulop’s announcement of a second reval can be viewed as an attempt stymie the increasing frustrations coming from downtown Jersey City homeowners. This past weekend, protesters gathered at City Hall and organizers have vowed to continue protests in spite of the promise of a second reval.
Still, the practicality of a second reval in 2019 should be questioned. Civic Parent’s Brigid D’Souza told Jersey Digs in a statement, “It’s premature to predict when exactly the next revaluation should occur, simply because we don’t know what market values will be a year from now. For all we know, market values may stay the same, and may still go up in Ward E, or they may go down. We simply won’t know until we’re in 2019 and can look back at buyer behavior with these new tax bills factored into the decision-making.”
Mayor Fulop will host community meetings in each ward to discuss issues and upcoming projects.
- Ward F – February 27, 6 PM – Mary McLeod Bethune Life Center (140 Martin Luther King Drive)
- Ward A – March 6, 6 PM – P.S. 20 (239 Ocean Ave)
- Ward C – March 15, 6 PM – Franklin L Williams Middle School 7 (222 Laidlaw Ave)
- Ward D – March 20, 6 PM – P.S. 28 (167 Hancock Ave)
- Ward B – March 29, 6 PM – Coptic Orthodox Church of St. Mark (427 West Side Ave)
- Ward E – April 4, 6 PM – City Hall (280 Grove St)