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FROM TIME TO TIME – A Quarterly Report on the Activities of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, July-September 2008

Dear Mayor:

We have advocated for municipalities in Trenton by

  • Monitoring and reacting to global financial sector crisis
  • Supporting legislation to increase local flexibility and discretion in traffic safety regulation.
  • Filed a challenge with the Appellate Division of COAH third round regulations.
  • Convened a meeting of the 90 Rural towns receiving state police services at the College of New Jersey in Ewing to update officials on what is being done to mitigate the impact of the Governor’s decision to eliminate state police patrols and charge towns for those services. Over 125 municipal officials and legislators attended the meeting
  • Filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the towns before the council on state mandates
  • Fighting efforts to reduce municipal revenues, relating to hotel liquor licensing.
  • Supporting public ballot question concerning proposed constitutional amendment to ultimately provide for local appointment of joint municipal court judges.
  • 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.
  • Monitoring and formulating response to DOT Commissioners toll increase proposal.
  • Mayor DelVecchio convened a meeting of the Heavy Truck Task force with DOT commissioner Killouri to discuss concerns with the Turnpike Authority’s proposal to raise turnpike and parkway tolls to pay for infrastructure improvements.
  • Working with Governor’s Counsel on the local government component of the Governor’s new public ethics initiative.

We have advocated for municipalities in Washington by

  • Promoting workable compromise on private sector bailout legislation.
  • Supporting 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.
  • 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.
  • The League’s Educational Foundation conducted an Educational Summit at the Middlesex Community College    Over 250 municipal and school officials heard DOE Commissioner Davy and DCA commissioner Doria as well as other state educational present the latest information on a broad spectrum of subjects such as pre school, consolidations and grant funding and the latest on the school construction Act.
  • At the request of the DEP the league convened a meeting of the 80 Highland Mayors with Governor Corzine at Drumthwacket in Princeton to discuss concerns the Mayor had with the Highlands Master Plan.
  • 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.
  • League Foundation President Louise Wilson and league lst VP met with representatives of Verizon and Cliff Johnson of the National League of Cities to outline a Mayors Book Club proposal which will be unveiled at the November league conference. The proposal will involve possible funding from the Verizon Foundation and it will be modeled after other programs the NLC has worked on in other States
  • Conducted a high level briefing for mayors on CMPTRA cuts. The briefing included key legislators, commissioners and mayors.
  • 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 our 2008 editions of the Police and Fire Selected Contract Provisions and Salary Scales; part of the Police and Fire Labor Data contract Service
  • Publishing our 2008 updates of the municipal license fees series: Selected Municipal License Fees, Landlord Registration and Fees, Dog and Cat Licensing Fees and Liquor License Fees. 
  • Hosting and administering year-round education seminars to help local officials deal with and solve issues and problems at the municipal level.
  • 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
  • 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 was presented with the prestigious Helen Fisk award by Preservation NJ at their annual gala in Trenton for efforts to restore the Ferdinand Roebling mansion
  • Attended the monthly meetings of the Gloucester County Mayors Assoc, Atlantic County Mayors and the Pascack Valley Mayors to discuss relevant legislative matters

 

 

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