Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner has released a statement in response to the recent article, “Guttenberg Mayor Raises Red Flag Over Weehawken’s Funding Shortfall for Regional Fire Department.” Mayor Turner’s statement addresses the concerns raised by Guttenberg Mayor Wayne Zitt about the funding for North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue (NHRFR).
In his statement, Mayor Turner calls Mayor Zitt’s statements “incredibly misinformed” and highlights the possible conflict of interest that may arise for Cosmo Cirillo and Hiram Gonzalez, both West New York mayoral candidates and Guttenberg employees. He points out that if Guttenberg were to pull out of NHRFR, as Mayor Zitt has allegedly threatened, it could cost West New York taxpayers over $500,000 per year.
Mayor Turner states that the funding formula for NHRFR is based on the assessed value of real estate in each municipality and that PILOTs (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) have no effect on it. He further emphasizes the excellent work of the firefighters and refutes Mayor Zitt’s claims about their response to recent fires.
Regarding the REAP tax credit, Mayor Turner questions why Mayor Zitt and Cosmo Cirillo refuse to utilize it for Guttenberg residents, as the other four NHRFR participating municipalities do. He mentions that the NHRFR funding structure is currently under re-examination, as required every 25 years, to ensure equitable costs between the five municipalities.
Mayor Turner also states that none of Guttenberg’s representatives on the NHRFR board have raised concerns similar to Mayor Zitt’s. He suggests that Mayor Zitt appoint himself to the fire board as Guttenberg’s representative to ensure he receives accurate information.