FROM TIME TO TIME – A Quarterly Report on the Activities
Of the New Jersey League of Municipalities
We have advocated for municipalities in Trenton by …
- Promoting Public Question #1, asking the voters to amend the State Constitution to dedicate an additional one-half cent of the sales tax to property tax relief
- Advocating for an exception to the new levy cap for municipal funding of local public libraries and for municipal matches and investments on which state grants and other support is contingent
- Advocating for an exception to the new levy cap for debt reduction and retirement
- Urging increased funding for Public Archives and Records Infrastructure Support (PARIS) grants, which were cut in the State’s FY ’08 budget
- Supporting reasonable and workable reforms to the use of eminent domain.
- Secured enactment of a sales tax exemption on local parking and other municipally provided services.
- Commenting on municipal issues concerning two sets of proposed rules from the State Agricultural Development Committee. The first set regulates permitting for commercial, non-agricultural activity on preserved farmland. The second regulates equine, composting and other agricultural activities on preserved farmland.
- Sponsored a meeting between the 19 League affiliated associations and the Department of Community Affairs
- Successfully advocated 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.
We have advocated for municipalities in Washington by …
- Promoting increased COPS funding for vital public safety investments
- Championing provisions in the Senate Energy Bill, sponsored by Senator Menendez, which would provide ‘green’ grants to local governments
- Coordinating New Jersey support for Amtrak reauthorization
- Cooperating with the National League of Cities (NLC) and other New Jersey and National Associations to educate Members of Congress on the importance of local governments’ authority to manage and collect revenue for the use of their local rights-of-way and the problems that would be created by Federal preemption of those rights in the Telecommunications Act under consideration.
- 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 …
- Beginning, 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.
- Since initiating, with the State’s Department of Health and Senior Services, over two years ago, over 200 mayors have joined the “Mayors’ Wellness Campaign,” to combat obesity and promote local opportunities for a more active and healthier lifestyle.
- 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 Conference of the Governmental Finance Officers Association.
- 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, with new Attorney General Anne Milgram, on ways the League and her Department can work together to combat the problem.
- Meeting of Mayors’ Committee for a Green Future to form operational subcommittees.
- Providing information to mayors on participating in meetings with the Police Standards Advisory Committee concerning removal of the Federal Consent Decree.
- Attending a series of “stakeholder” meetings hosted by the Department of Education on the development of a school funding formula.
- Establishing, under the chairmanship of Edison Mayor Jun Choi, a new School Funding Committee, to monitor and make recommendations regarding the development of a new education aid formula.
- Conducting, alone and in concert with other interested groups, well attended seminars on Effective Records Management, Retirement and Pensions Planning and the new Local Budget and Levy Cap requirements.
- Co-sponsored the annual Arthur Holland Ethics in Government Symposium, featuring former Governor Tom Kean at the Bloustein School at Rutgers.
- Co-sponsoring, with BPU and various other state agencies, the 2007 Clean Energy Conference in New Brunswick.
We have provided municipal officials with resources for problem solving by …
- Continuing to publish featured grant links and a featured article each month on our Grants Resource Center website.
- Adding an “Aging and Senior Resource Center” to our website.
- Reformatting the Ordinance Library found on our website so that it is more user friendly and easily searchable.
- Hosting and administering year-round education seminars to help local officials deal with and solve issues and problems at the municipal level.
- Establishing the Gang Prevention and Youth Violence Task Force, chaired by Mayor Bob Bowser of East Orange, to develop and promote a comprehensive and compassionate approach to the large and growing gang epidemic infecting New Jersey. Mayor Bowser has represented the League at a Press Conference and at a seminar at Princeton University on the problem; and he has led the Task Force in discussions with the Administration that led to Governor Corzine’s new anti-gang initiatives.
- Made available audio recordings of dozens of educational sessions from the Annual Conference
- Provided State-wide distribution of copies of the League’s COPE Report which provides comprehensive review of impact of pension and health benefits on local government.
- 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
- Summiting on pension and benefit issues at the Mayors’ Pension and Health benefits Summit.
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.
* Regular Media Alerts to the press, covering every aspect of new public policy developments in Trenton.