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PASSAIC, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Passaic, like most cities, is faced with serious budgetary problems and is trying to find ways to bring in new revenue.
Its latest plan goes after disabled drivers, and, as CBS 2’s John Slattery reports, many are not pleased.
For years now, 80-year-old Wanda Walis has had something free that now will cost her.
“It’s disgusting. It’s terrible. Terrible,” said Walis, who has leg and lung problems.
WCBS 880′s Levon Putney On The Story
The freebie is out in front of her home: a handicapped parking spot which she uses and Passaic has provided for free. On Thursday night the Passaic Council finalized an ordinance to charge the disabled $50.
“It’s terrible. They don’t have the money. How do you pay for this?” Walis said.
Walis told WCBS 880′s Levon Putney she doesn’t know how she’ll afford it.
“I get $18,000 a year,” Walis said, referring to the $7,000 she gets from a pension and more than $10,000 in Social Security.
“I can’t work. Why are you hitting me? They make $70,000 … $80,000. That hurts. That hurts. They don’t care. They have no heart for the residents.”
The fee for the first year is $50, but anyone disabled could park there. So, $75 will get you a personalized spot that only your car can use.
Clearly, the locals are not happy with this new mandate.
“I’m invalid, plastic hip. No good. No good,” Haber Wladyslawa said.
City officials said with 250 existing signs and another 100 applicants, the cost is real.
“We’re talking about a budget item in excess of $200,000,” Passaic Council President Gary Schaer said.
Critics of the fees said it would bring in only $10,000. One of them is the 88-year-old former mayor, who said it’s all an insult to the disabled and to the taxpayers.
“You’re talking about $10,000 in an $82 million budget. I mean, come on,” Margie Semler said.
The former mayor suggested that instead of going after the disabled, the council members should take a cut in pay, saying they earn about $27,000 a year for two meetings a month.
The Passaic Council estimates it costs $650 to install signs on one parking space.
It also recently floated a plan to end free Sunday parking to deal with financial woes.
Do you think the city is going too far to deal with its budget strains? Sound off in the comments section below!