It is hard to imagine an issue more striking than redevelopment to highlight the corruption, incompetence and financial devastation that have been hallmarks of the Labrosse/Canestrino Administration. While running for office four years ago, the Labrosse/Canestrino Team declared that they would “create hundreds of construction and permanent jobs for residents” and that there would be “no special breaks for friendly developers.”
Instead, the Labrosse Political Machine has given away millions in tax breaks to “friendly developers” at every other taxpayer’s expense without creating a single permanent job for our residents. Not only have they failed to move our City forward in regard to redevelopment, we have actually lost ground- literally. There has been a giant hole in the ground at Main and Mercer Streets, the heart of our Downtown area, for over a year due to the incompetence of the Labrosse/Canestrino Team. Not one single project that they have approved has been completed during their tenure in office.
THE BILLION DOLLAR LIE
Let’s start with the Billion Dollar Lie that Labrosse and Canestrino touted in their taxpayer funded campaign mailing. They claim credit for “Over $1 Billion in Total New Private Real Estate Value.” When questioned at a public City Council meeting, their own Chief Financial Officer admitted that the actual amount of new value added in the past four years is only 1% of that claim. And that was from projects which had been approved before they took office. 99% of that claim is what they hope will happen in Hackensack. That would be like telling people that you are a billionaire because you hope that one day you will be one.
The Labrosse/Canestrino Team stresses Main Street Redevelopment as the centerpiece of their plan, yet, four years later, we have nothing to show for it. Worse than nothing. We have a dangerous eyesore, a “hole-in-the-ground” in the heart of our downtown business area, scaring off developers and shoppers, and creating a safety hazard for motorists and pedestrians. Although that project was approved in July of 2014 and projected to be completed within two years, Labrosse and Canestrino have done nothing to get it going despite the drain it’s causing on our business district.
“FRIENDLY DEVELOPER” GIVEAWAYS
After railing against “special breaks for friendly developers” during the 2013 election, the Labrosse/Canestrino Team has committed nearly every misuse of the tax abatement program described and criticized in a report commissioned by the State of New Jersey which examined that program.
The report stressed that long-term tax abatements “should be used carefully and sparingly” because they result in “lost revenue for government entities” and “present opportunities for unfair favoritism.” Frequently, they are “unnecessary giveaways” for “favored developers.” The Labrosse/Canestrino giveaways will result in millions of lost tax dollars, and as the report clearly explains, those dollars will be made up by all other taxpayers, putting a tremendous burden on our homeowners.
Long-term tax abatements should be granted only when there is a clear benefit to the community, such as attracting development that would otherwise not occur, helping to ensure the success of vital projects or creating jobs for local residents.
THE LABROSSE POLITICAL MACHINE REPORT CARD ON REDEVELOPMENT
There is no question that Mayor Labrosse and crew have failed miserably on the issue of redevelopment. It is astounding that they perversely stress redevelopment as their greatest success when not one single project that they’ve approved has been completed. Hackensack needs a City Council that understands the process of marketing our City to developers, and then working with them from application-to-completion to move our City forward and stabilize taxes for every homeowner.