|September 5, 2008
Statewide Summit Action Plan
Last night, we were gratified to see so many of you at our meeting of local elected officials, concerned with the State’s new unfunded State Police mandate. As you know if you were there, that gathering of over 100 public servants directed the League to ask Governor Corzine and other state policy-makers for this extension of time, and for a meeting, so that we can explain the problems that have been created by this unfunded mandate. We hope to be given the opportunity to discuss mutually acceptable options that will not cause increased property tax burdens.
It is not in the public’s best interest to mandate the expenditure of public funds for an unspecified public benefit. Yet that is what the State Budget will force local officials to do, unless immediate action is taken to delay the implementation of a key provision of Chapter 35, P.L. 2008.
As you know, language in the State’s Appropriations Act requires 89 municipalities to decide, by December 15 of this year, whether they choose to establish a new police department, contract with another entity for police services or pay, into the State Treasury, an amount unilaterally determined by the State Treasurer. If they fail to notify the Treasurer of their choice by that date, or if the choice they make is rejected by the Attorney General, they will be treated as if they had chosen to pay the Treasurer’s assessment. If they fail to remit the amount arbitrarily set by the Treasurer, they will face the reduction or elimination of their 2009 revenue replacement and property tax relief funding.
In order to make a responsible decision, a decision that their constituent taxpayers can rationally evaluate, local officials need to know exactly what services they will receive if they comply with the Treasurer’s demand for funding. Only then can they carefully evaluate the other options offered by the language included in the Appropriations Act and ethically exercise their moral duty to act as careful stewards of the public’s purse.
Despite repeated requests for that essential information, to date the State has been unable to provide it to responsible local decision-makers.
Based on those circumstances, it was decided to respectfully ask the Governor, the Treasurer, the Senate President and the Assembly Speaker to take whatever actions are necessary to extend the arbitrary December 15 deadline until such time as local elected officials are provided with and have a real opportunity to evaluate the needed information and to compare the cost and character of State services to their other options.
We, further, have respectfully asked the Governor to give due consideration to our request for a personal meeting with himself and the Treasurer on this crucial matter, with serious property tax consequences.
We want to thank Senator Jeff Van Drew, Assemblywoman Marcia Karrow and Assemblyman Nelson Albano, who were joined at our meeting by Senator Steven Oroho and Assemblymen Gary Chiusano and Doug Fisher. All of these Legislators, who are among our chief advocates on this issue, have introduced and continue to push for remedial legislation. Last night, they also shared important insights and great advice with us. We know they will continue to do all that they can to protect our property taxpayers from this new cost.
The next crucial steps, however, are up to you. Among the many great ideas that emerged from last night’s meeting, today we want to highlight the following.
- Call Governor Corzine at 609-292-6000 to urge him to delay the deadline and agree to meet with the League’s Committee. (If your call is not put directly through to the Governor, ask that he return your call, at his earliest convenience.)
- Call the Treasurer at 609-292-6748 with the same message and request.
- Call Senate President Codey at 609-292-5217 with the same message and request.
- Call Speaker Roberts at 609-292-7065 with the same message and request.
- Likewise, call Governor Corzine’s Chief-of-Staff Bradley Abelow at 609-777-2475.
- Urge your constituents to call, mail or e-mail (addresses to be posted on the League’s website, www.njslom.com) these five policy-makers and the respective Chairs of the Senate Budget and Appropriations and the Assembly Budget Committees.
- Write a Letter to the Editor or an Op-Ed piece for your local newspaper, explaining the problems created by this unfunded mandate, the unreasonable December 15 deadline and the State’s inability to provide you with the information you need to make a reasonable decision, in the best interests of your property taxpaying constituents. (Remember, the State is to blame for this situation. Please don’t let anyone shift the blame to other municipalities or groups of municipalities.)
In conclusion, we want to especially thank League President Bob Bowser of East Orange for his support on this. The mandate does not affect his taxpayers. Still, he has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with those of us who are affected. His attendance at last night’s meeting, and his support and advocacy throughout this year, have clearly demonstrated his dedication to the principles on which our League was founded, as well as to the practice of mutual aid in time of need.
If you have any questions, call Bill Dressel at 609-695-3481, ext. 122. We will keep you advised of any further developments.
Very truly yours,
|Timothy C. McDonough,
League First Vice President,
League State Policing Task Force,
Member, League Executive Board,
League State Policing Task Force,
Mayor, Buena Vista