Newark’s Booker Says He Plans No Firings for the First Time in Three Years

Newark (9982MF) Mayor Cory Booker said his budget for the coming year won’t call for significant employee firings or unpaid time off for the first time in three years.

Booker, whose city coped with rising crime last year after a 2010 cut in state aid led to dismissals in the police department, said he plans to rehire some officers, though he didn’t say how many or where the money would come from.

“Today we are stronger than we were two years ago,” Booker said yesterday in his sixth State of the City speech. “Times are still tough, but we as a city are getting better.”

The mayor of the largest municipality in New Jersey by population saw 2011 dominated by a budget crisis that prompted him in September to take a $32 million loan from the state and give it more oversight to plug a $57 million deficit. Booker, a 42-year-old Rhodes Scholar and Yale-educated lawyer, said Newark is undergoing its biggest economic rebound since World War II.

Since he took office in 2006, Booker said, $700 million in development projects have begun, including two new hotels and the first downtown office tower in 20 years.

The mayor said he wants the City Council to cut $4 million from its expense accounts and end longevity pay for members.

A quarter of Newark’s almost 280,000 residents live in poverty and the median household income of about $35,700 is slightly more than half that for the state, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Booker said in January that the city is “about halfway” to matching a $100 million donation from Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg to improve city schools.

The district of about 40,000 students has 38 of the state’s 164 chronically failing schools, or almost a quarter of the total. It has been under state control since 1995.

To contact the reporter on this story: Terrence Dopp in Trenton at tdopp@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net

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