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Dear Editor:

Giving municipal property taxpayers all the relief they deserve needs to be a part of "the new normal."

When the Governor advanced his budget proposal for the State’s next Fiscal Year, he announced that every municipality in New Jersey would be able to receive the same amount of general property tax relief funding this year, as they received in 2010. That’s good. While we are relieved, it is less than you are entitled to.

Last year, the State slashed over $271 million from 2009’s already diminished combination of Energy Tax and Consolidated Municipal Property Tax Relief Act property tax relief funding. And 1/3 of the total - $3.35 million – was diverted from Open Space Payments In Lieu Of Taxes to the state’s budget.

Every year, the State collects revenues that are supposed to come back to your municipality. These provide your local government with dollars that don’t have to be raised through property taxes on you and your neighbors. Whenever the State decides NOT deliver this funding for property tax relief – and, instead, to use it for some other purpose – your local officials find it more and more difficult to keep your property taxes down.

During its budget deliberations, we should urge the Legislature to use the Governor’s proposal as a baseline. If actual State revenue receipts exceed current anticipations, you should ask the Legislature to reduce its reliance on Energy taxes, which are supposed to be used for property tax relief; and to increase the distribution to your home town, as required by the statutes.

These are our priorities for this year’s State Budget. But for the longer term, we need to end the State’s reliance on local revenues to balance its budget. The Energy Tax revenues owed to local governments must begin to be restored. We want to see a State commitment this year and we will work with the Administration and the Legislature on a phased plan to wean the State off of its dependence on Energy Tax (and CMPTRA) funds, and to rededicate the dollars to municipal property tax relief.

Very truly yours,

Mayor Janice Mironov, East Windsor
Chairperson, NJLM Statutory Funding Compliance Committee and 2nd Vice-President, NJLM




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