Paterson officials are trying to get a new budget passed before the Friday deadline to apply for state aid. Mayor Jeffery Jones told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that city officials are in weekly contact with state representatives about the budget and he’s caught in the middle in the process.
Jones said the administration, which includes himself and the directors, must present the budget to members of the council. Those council members can hold up the process, he said. It’s not a secret that council members and Jones don’t always get along. He said he has presented the budget with the directors and shown the cuts and where they are coming from.
Critics of Jones say he is willing to make cuts in the budget but hasn’t returned overtime money from Tropical Storm Irene last year. Jones denies those allegations and says he has the canceled checks from employees to prove it.
“The thing at question here is whether or not the state, who was in charge when I came on board, is aware of our policies and procedures by which they’re saying needed to be addressed,” Jones said. “No argument. But you have some folks who have been involved in receiving additional compensation through overtime for almost a decade or two and then tells me today well you need to address this and that.”
Jones said the standards keep changing and he blames opponents for playing politics. When asked who was playing politics, Jones said, “I’m going to have to say the state, thereby the governor.” He also said he’s been battling members of the council who want to take his seat and that Councilman Ken Morris has a vested interest in a development project involving his employer.
“So we have these individuals — and it’s the history of our city — that the council members start to fight the mayors to slow progress,” Jones said. “At this point in time we have an MOU, memorandum of understanding. If I violate it, the city is in jeopardy.”
Jones said the public needs to have confidence that he’s doing his job and he must prove the same to state officials, who he speaks with on a regular basis. He said his proof of proper conduct is that he hasn’t been removed from office.
“If in fact the city of Paterson, Jeff Jones and the administration have failed, I am certain under this governor’s hand and his position as being a governor who goes and takes people out in handcuffs, that would have happened,” he said.
Jones said council members should be investigated instead of him. “There’s been no conversation about us leaving or doing anything awry,” he said. “But there is significant documentation that suggests that this council has been derelict in their responsibilities and yet the administration, that being the state, has to deal with me and not the council.”