|June 6, 2008
I. Arbitration Time-Limits Could
II. Hotel Liquor License Cost Reduction
Bill Not In Public’s Interest
I. Arbitration Time-Limits Could Hurt Taxpayers
Yesterday, the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee considered and released A-2243, which would place 60 day limits on the mediation and fact-finding phases of police and fire contract arbitration. It would also require an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators to issue an award within 120 days of selection or assignment, which limit could only be extended by 90 days, by mutual consent of the parties.
Though we can see a benefit in enforcing the time limit on the arbitrator at the end of the process, we cannot support the proposed limits on mediation and fact-finding at the beginning. Those artificial time limits place an emphasis on speed, at the possible expense of the interests of our property taxpayers. They would limit the ability of an independent mediator/arbitrator to use time as a tool to strongly encourage negotiation and compromise on important aspects of a settlement. And the limits could compromise the fact-finding process, and lead to the inclusion of mutually disagreeable provisions in the final settlement.
Given the low percentage of cases that are ultimately resolved by a binding interest arbitration award, we see no need to advance these changes at this time. Accordingly, we oppose A-2243. Please contact Speaker Roberts, Minority Leader DeCroce and your representatives in the General Assembly and urge them to oppose A-2243. If you have any questions please contact Jon Moran at (609) 695-3481 ext. 121.
II. Hotel Liquor License Cost Reduction Bill Not In Public’s Interest
The Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee also released A-2896, which would prohibit a municipality from imposing minimum bid for issuance of hotel liquor license in certain cases.
This legislation does not apply to "C" and "D" licenses, which are typically offered through a sealed bid process, with a minimum bid to assure that the municipality is not low balled. For these licenses, the market can set the price.
The automatic license available to new hotels and motels with at least 100 rooms prevents the typical bid process, since the pool of potential bidders is limited to one. There is no auction process as with other license sales, because of the circumstances. Accordingly, the municipality will set a minimum bid to establish the value of the new license. If the price is too high, the property owner will not bid. In that case, the municipality can set a lower minimum bid.
This bill simply says that “… no minimum bid shall be required for the issuance of a license … if the dining facilities of the hotel or motel are regularly and principally used to provide only meals for catered events and breakfast for guests … .” In effect, this allows the hotel’s owner to set the value of the license and gives the municipality, which will be called on to provide public safety and other services to the facility, no recourse. Absent the establishment of a minimum bid, the owner of the property could bid $1 and get the license.
This bill will deny a municipality reasonable compensation. Please contact Speaker Roberts, Minority Leader DeCroce and your Assembly representatives and urge them to oppose A-2896. If you have any questions please contact Jon Moran at (609) 695-3481 ext. 121.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.