October 25, 2010
RE: Speaker Delays Vote on A-3393 League Opposed Proposal to Reform Binding Arbitration
We commend Speaker Sheila Oliver for deciding to delay Assembly action on A-3393, a proposed Arbitration Reform initiative that is OPPOSED by the League, as currently drafted. In announcing her decision to postpone action on the bill, Speaker Oliver indicated her willingness to discuss amendments.
We want to thank all Mayors and Local Officials who contacted their representatives in the General Assembly in response to our October 22 letter on this matter. That letter can be accessed at http://www.njslom.org/letters/ml102210-arbitration-reform.html. Your voices have been heard, and, because of that, we can hope for legislative action on an arbitration reform bill that will help you to maintain high quality local services and programs in future years, within the permanent 2% levy cap.
Having approved an inflexible 2% cap on the property tax levy, State policy makers need to recognize that any arbitration awards with a total economic impact of more than 2% will force cuts elsewhere in local budgets. To fund increased public safety compensation, in excess of the 2% cap, municipalities will need to cut services, salaries and/or personnel in other departments or reduce the number of uniformed personnel. And even those actions will not satisfy the public’s hunger for reduced property tax burdens. They will only slow the rate of growth.
We support the provisions of S-2310/A-3283, which require the arbitrator to cap the full economic impact of the award at the 2% limit.
Nothing short of that can assure local elected officials that they will be able to continue to provide adequate public services to their citizens. Other services will be the first to be cut. But over time, even public safety service levels will decline, as fewer and fewer police officers and firemen and women consume more and more of the levy limited local budget.
If you have not yet done so, please contact your representatives in Trenton and remind them that when they agreed to impose the new 2% cap on local property tax levies, they committed themselves to enacting serious management reforms and mandates relief initiatives, so that you could manage municipal services within the new limits. Urge them to support identical limits on the costs of future employee contracts, such as those embodied in S-2310/A-3283.
We look forward to working with Speaker Oliver and with all interested parties on this bill, and other management reform and mandates relief initiatives. And, again, our thanks to all municipal officials, who have contacted their representatives in Trenton on these crucial property tax relief matters.
If you have any questions, contact Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext. 121.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.