FROM TIME TO TIME –
A Quarterly Report on the Activities Of the New Jersey League of Municipalities
April - June 2008
We have advocated for municipalities in Trenton by …
- Continuing efforts to reinstate municipal property tax relief funding in the State Budget.
- Supporting legislation to increase local flexibility and discretion in traffic safety regulation.
- Opposing ongoing efforts to impose a new mandate on municipalities served by the State Police.
- Fighting efforts to reduce municipal revenues, relating to hotel liquor licensing.
- Combating efforts to rush the mediation and fact-finding aspects of interest arbitration.
- Advising the newly created Local Unit Alignment, Reorganization and Consolidation Commission (LUARCC) of our willingness to assist in an objective study leading to the development of municipal efficiency standards and recommendations that respect the rights of the citizens to self-determination.
- Opposing a proposal which would, on the one hand, allow the voters to express their will; but, on the other hand, inform those voters that they will be punished, if their will does not comport with that of a majority of the appointed members of the LUARCC, since as taxpaying citizens of the State of New Jersey, they must be allowed the unencumbered right to determine the future government of their communities, and they must be assured equitable access to the benefits secured by their own tax dollars.
- Submitting objections to the COAH regulations, based on comments of our COAH committee and the comments submitted to us by our members.
- Supporting reasonable and workable reforms to the use of eminent domain.
- Successfully advocating against the NJ Law Revision Commission’s recommendation to revise Title 44 to add further responsibilities to municipalities that no longer operate a General Assistance program.
- Successfully advocating against the NJ Law Revision Commission’s recommendation to clarify and make more “user-friendly” 40:55D-70 on Land use variances.
- Meeting with Acting Commissioner of Department of Personnel and League’s Civil Service Study Committee to begin a discussion on issues and concerns regarding operational, statutory and regulatory strictures governing civil service. League offered recommendations that would allow for more efficient management of the system.
- Meeting of League President Mayor Bob Bowser of East Orange, along with vice presidents Mayor Tim McDonough, Mayor Jim Anzaldi and Committeewoman Louise Wilson, with Governor Jon Corzine, Chief of Staff Bradley Abelow, State Treasurer David Rousseau, and DCA Commissioner Joe Doria to discuss the possible restoration of the state budget cuts of some $189million in property tax relief funding.
- Convening a Press Conference, featuring the League Officers, along with Wayne Smith, Mayor of Irvington and President of the Urban Mayors Association, at the State House, with over 20 mayors and legislators, calling for the Governor and legislative leaders to restore the $189 m in budget cuts.
We have advocated for municipalities in Washington by …
- Promoting increased COPS, CDBG, LIHEAP and other vital funding for important public policy investments
- Continued advocacy for provisions in the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill, sponsored by Senator Menendez, which would provide Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants to local governments
- Coordinating New Jersey support for Amtrak reauthorization.
- Promoting responsible Housing and Economic Recovery reforms.
- Publicized coalitions, involving local governments, dedicated to transportation and other infrastructural investments.
- Working with NLC and our Delegation to protect our authority to exercise eminent domain for economic development and to minimize new federal restrictions on the use of eminent domain.
- Supporting reforms to eliminate the loophole, under the federal railroad act, which allows solid waste facilities to gain exemptions from local and state regulation.
We have strengthened local leadership capacity by …
- Conducting 16 professional development seminars and events have been held for approximately 1,000 attendees. The League continually strives to meet the educational needs of its members, and welcomes suggested topics.
- Continuing, in cooperation with NLC, the distribution of regular updates on legislative, judicial and regulatory developments in our Nation’s Capital
- Cosponsoring and participating in the “2nd Transit Village Symposium,” at Rutgers University, to promote and encourage the fostering of Smart Growth principles.
- Sending League Staff to speak at County League and County Mayors’ Association meetings in Ocean, Warren and Somerset counties, at a monthly meeting of the New Jersey Municipal Management Association and at the Annual Conferences of the Governmental Finance Officers Association, NJMMA, Municipal Clerks’ Association and the Tax Collectors and Treasurers of New Jersey
- Attending meetings of the Two Rivers Council of Mayors, Bergen County League of Municipalities, Union County League of Municipalities and the Morris County League of Municipalities to discuss the status of budget cuts and COAH regulations.
- Conferencing between League’s Immigration Reform Task Force and the Public Advocate and the Fund for New Jersey to discuss immigration reform and developing on-line information resources for League members.
- Meeting, by the League’s Gang Prevention and Youth Violence Task Force Chair, President Bob Bowser, and Helen Yeldell, with Attorney General Anne Milgram, on ways the League and her Department can work together to combat the problem.
- Partnered with the NJ Child Care Economic Impact Council under the leadership of Thomas Edison College to begin a conversation with mayors concerning the link between economic development and the childcare industry. Prepared and disseminated Mayors Survey on Childcare to gauge areas of technical assistance that can be offered to municipalities to benefit both children and their families.
- Co-sponsored program on Immigration and Democracy on the role of local government in defusing community tensions and maximizing the benefits of immigration. Program held at Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers, the State University.
We have provided municipal officials with resources for problem solving by …
- The League publication on the Open Public Meetings Act was revised by the League Staff Attorney to include new statutes and case law.
- Continuing to provide articles and featured links on our Grant Resource Center’s main page with the assistance of our grants consultants at Triad Associates.
- Partnered with the New Jersey Cable Telecommunications Association (NJCTA) and its member companies to produce an episode of “We’ve Got Issues”, an hour-long panel discussion on the mortgage foreclosure crisis and the impacts on local communities. Throughout April, the program was televised statewide on NJCTA member cable systems.
- Partnered with Government Technology magazine and numerous state agencies to produce the Digital Government Summit in Trenton. The summit included high level discussions on best practices and new ideas in the area of government technology.
- Conducted a high level briefing for mayors on CMPTRA cuts. The briefing included key legislators, commissioners and mayors.
- Also, League Director, Bill Dressel was a guest speaker at the monthly meetings of the Ocean County Mayors Association, Atlantic County Mayors Association, Camden County Mayors Association and the Bergen County League of Municipalities. In April the league director was a guest speaker at the 25th Anniversary dinner of the Atlantic County League of Municipalities in Hammonton. Also in April he was a guest speaker at the 75th Anniversary Dinner of the NJ Planning Officials in Woodbridge.
- Continuing to provide several resource centers on our website including, but not limited to: the Grant Resource Center, the Aging and Senior Resource Center, a Purchasing Resource Center and an Ordinance Library.
- Publishing the second edition of the sixth volume of The Arbitration Reporter in June.
- Sending out our yearly survey of Police and Fire Contract Information.
- Publishing two booklets in our municipal license fees series: Selected Municipal License Fees and Landlord Registration and Fees. The first was an update of our biannual publication and the latter a new publication.
- Hosting and administering year-round education seminars to help local officials deal with and solve issues and problems at the municipal level.
- Making available audio recordings of dozens of educational sessions from the Annual Conference
- Providing an informational Legal Consultation Service through the Bureau of Municipal Information for municipal officials.
- Keeping municipal officials advised of legal developments affecting municipalities.
- Reviewing proposed regulations for municipal impact and commenting if appropriate.
- Publishing the 2007 - 2008 Elected Officials Handbook
- Publishing the 2007 Laws of Interest to NJ Municipalities
- Establishing web based knowledge centers on the State Budget and CMPTRA Cuts
- Creating the “Mayors Sound Off” bulletin board at NJSLOM.com to promote mayors comments on the State Budget.
- Meeting with our 19 affiliate associations to discuss planning details for our 93rd annual league conference Nov 18-21 in Atlantic City. Preceding this meeting we met with Susan Jacobucci, Director of the Division of Local Government Services, to provide updates on a broad range of issues such as ethics, open public meetings act, public contracts law, share grants, interlocal services and budget reporting changes.
- Publicizing American Cities ’08 – an excellent on-line resource for important information on the treatment of municipal issues in the major party presidential campaigns.
We have promoted municipal government by …
- Authoring several op-ed pieces defending the principles of home rule, self-determination and the need for property tax reform. Multiple pieces ran in the Newark Star-Ledger, the Trenton Times, the Asbury Park Press, the Bergen Record and across the State.
- Producing regular Media Alerts to the press, covering every aspect of new public policy developments in Trenton.
- Establishing, through the auspice of League Executive Officers, a Women In Municipal Government Committee which membership consists of all elected and appointed women mayors and council members in New Jersey.
- Creating a Women In Municipal Government webpage which provides relevant information on select programs and events of particular interest to women.
- League Past President Ginny Hook accepted the Business and Industry Association’s Good New Neighbor Award for the restoration of the new League headquarters in Trenton.
- Awarded $3,000 is scholarships through the Louis Bay 2nd - Future Municipal Leaders Scholarship Competition.
- During the months of May and June the League’s newly formed Educational Foundation met to formalize details on a $200,000 grant from Wal-Mart Corp for green projects to be administered by the League’s Mayors Committee for a Green Future and discuss upcoming details fro foundation programs on school funding and affordable housing in March, 2009.
- On June 11, over 100 elected and appointed officials attended the league’s 16th annual baseball appreciation night at Thunder Park in Trenton.
- Also In June Adam Zellner, The Governor’s Director of Policy, addressed the League Economic Development Task Force on the Administration’s plans to provide 100,000 new affordable housing units over the next 10 years and specifically their thoughts on the Speaker’s housing reform package and the newly adopted third round COAH regulations.