TRENTON – State officials had to order Trenton’s city government to make a $14.4 million bond payment last week, heading off a default that was approaching because the municipal council hasn’t approved a budget.

The capital city’s government has been paying bills on an emergency basis since April, with the City Council unable to approve a budget or debt payments.

The Division of Local Government Services directed the city to make the bond payment.

Mayor Reed Gusciora said he would like the state to intervene further by taking control of budget operations. To this point, at least, the state hasn’t gone further than providing technical assistance.

It’s not unprecedented for the state to take over municipal operations in troubled municipalities. It operated the Camden government for years before restoring local control in 2010. It continued to play a key role in operations in Atlantic City.

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The proposed Trenton city budget for 2022 of $226.7 million doesn’t raise the municipal tax rate and trims spending by around $800,000. But it has sparked fighting with a City Council that often battles with the mayor and itself.

Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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