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October 14, 2011

FROM TIME TO TIME – A Quarterly Report on the Activities Of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, July, 2011 – September, 2011

Dear Mayor:

Here is an update on League activity during the third quarter of 2011.

We have advocated for municipalities in Trenton by

  • Advocating for a restoration of Transitional Aid funding, which was line-item vetoed from the State’s FY 2012 Appropriations Act.
  • Meeting with DCA on the Best Practices Checklist, in order to promote workable, reasonable and open standards and procedures.
  • Working with the sponsor of the EMS reform bill to remove requirements that would adversely affect municipalities.
  • Backing efforts to provide relief for municipalities from tax appeal and reserve for uncollected taxes requirements.
  • Resisting attempts to limit municipal health and safety inspections of multiple dwellings.
  • Opposing legislation that would require that certain public contract bid advertisements include certified cost estimates or estimate ranges of projected contract cost and amends the grounds for rejection of bids.
  • Opposing legislation that would eliminate routine municipal inspections of multi-family dwelling units.
  • Participating in a coalition to stop deregulation of the cable TV industry that would hurt municipal interests.
  • Combating a threat that would permit the State to retain revenue replacement funding, if voters reject a shared service proposal put forward by the bureaucracy in Trenton.
  • Arguing in the Tax Court against a corporate refusal to remit telecommunications business personal property taxes.
  • Promoting appropriate tort reforms to protect local taxpayers from liabilities resulting from actions and events beyond local control.
  • Lobbying for a cap on attorneys fees in suits filed under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act.
  • Meet with stakeholders regarding concerns with pending OPRA and Open Public Meetings Act reforms
  • Continue to work with the Civil Service “Title Consolidation” committee
  • Participate in the Department of Health and Human Services quarterly Registrar meetings. 
  • Working with the Division of Taxation on the implementation on P.L. 2010, c.55
  • Supporting legislation that would extend the time to review defeated school budgets when the School Board election day is changed

We have advocated for municipalities in Washington by

  • Promoting compromise in the debt ceiling debates to present a Federal government shut-down and a National default.
  • Advocating for continued and increased Federal Transportation funding.
  • Urging our delegation to support a compromise to allow continued Disaster Aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) after Hurricanes Irene and Lee.
  • Supporting legislation that would reallocate the “D Block” radio wave spectrum of the 700 MHz to public safety so there is sufficient spectrum to build a nationwide communications network and, use proceeds from other spectrum auctions to offset the cost of network deployment, operation and maintenance.

We have strengthened local leadership capacity by …

  • We have held Professional Development Seminars for Municipal Officials on the topics of:
    • Implementing Health and Pensions Benefits Reforms
    • Personnel Policies and the Impact of Social Networking
    • Budget and Audit Updates
    • Shared Services
    • Ethics and Conflicts of Interest
    • E-mail Retention and the Open Public Records Act
  • Providing news and critical information to municipal leaders and others in state and federal government though our monthly magazine New Jersey Municipalities.  In the past six issues we have included articles by mayors, other local and state level officials and other experts on topics as diverse as the state census, community agriculture, smart cards and shared services. In addition to articles, we provided columns focused on Labor Relations, Legislation, League Services, Legal Issues and Federal Initiatives.
  • Convened, with JCP&L and the BPU, two closed door sessions with Mayors, in Tinton Falls and Morristown, to discuss JCP&L’s response to power outages caused by Hurricane Irene. The hearings were helpful in JCP&L developing a communications plan that will be made available to all mayors in the JCP&L service area.
  • Convening a meeting, staffedby League Executive Director Bill Dressel and Senior Legislative Analyst Mike Cerra, of the Economic Development Task Force. BPU President Lee Solomon presented important developments involving a broad spectrum of sustainability issues and grants funding for economic development purposes to the over 30 members who attended the meeting.
    • Senior Legislative Analyst Mike Cerra spoke at the annual conference for the New Jersey Planning Officials, providing a legislative update to the attendees.
  • Facilitated a meeting with Mayors and JCP&L leadership regarding JCP&L’s response to Hurricane Irene

We have provided municipal officials with resources for problem solving by …

  • Publishing the 3rd edition of the 19th volume of Arbitration Reporters in September.
  • Publishing the 2011 Edition of the Police and Fire Contract Labor Data books and Police and Fire Salary Guides (4 books total).
  • Publishing an updated Open Public Meetings Act compliance guide.
  • Posting downloads and videos related to that session on the League web site.
  • Convening the Third Annual Economic Summit of the League’s Education Foundation at the Bloustein School, Rutgers University.  Over 80 delegates participated. 
  • Publishing League Education Foundation White Paper, written by Rutgers Professors Hughes and Seneca on New Jersey’s economic condition and prospects.
  • Publishing a League White Paper detailing the history of the State’s misuse of Energy Tax proceeds. 
  • Hearing from Caren Franzini, CEO of the NJ Economic Development Agency (EDA), at the quarterly meetings of the League Economic Development Task Force, chaired by Mayor Jim Maley of Collingswood. Ms Franzini spoke on the Christie Administration’s recent efforts to attract and retain businesses in New Jersey and provided members with resource materials on how they can get more information from the EDA to promote economic development programs in their towns. The League has scheduled a program on this subject for the November League Conference and more details will follow in the fall issues of the league magazine.
  • Sending League Executive Director Bill Dressel and the Honorable Pam Mount, Councilwoman Lawrence and Chair of the League of Municipalities Mayors Committee for a Green Future, to welcome Stephen Shu-Hung Shen, the minister of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Administration, and his delegation at a meeting with several other environmental associations and representatives of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection at the DEP offices in Trenton. Mr Shen spent the entire day visiting Woodbridge Township, Lawrence and Trenton schools to learn how New Jersey municipalities are developing environmental education and cultural awareness into our schools.
  • Expanding the reach of the Mayors’ Book Club, as Mayor Tim McDonough Hope Township and Chair of the League of Municipalities Mayors Book Club met with Glassboro Mayor Leo McCabe and representatives of Rowan University to discuss plans for the 2012 Mayors’ Book Club to be hosted at Rowan. Details on the program which will involve four southern counties and a total of eight schools will be worked out in the Fall with a formal announcement in late November.
  • Arranging a meeting of our School Tax Reform Committee, Chaired by League Board Member Mayor Gerry Tarantolo of Eatontown with former NJ Commissioner of Education Lucille Davy to discuss the current funding formula.
  • Working with the Urban Mayors Association on proposed Tax Sale procedures
  • Working with FEMA and NJOEM on the response to Hurricane Irene.  Provided daily updates and troubleshoot for municipalities as issued arose.

We have promoted municipal government by

  • Authoring several op-ed pieces defending the principles of home rule, self-determination, the need for COAH reform, Civil Service reform and 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.
  • Encouraging all state and local officials to follow us on Twitter.  You can now follow the League on Twitter (http://twitter.com/NJ_League)
  • League special committees and task forces and other initiatives.
  • Hosting the Quarterly Meeting of the League’s Educational Foundation, chaired by Foundation President Louise Wilson, at the league headquarters, which included an update on the Mayors’ Book Club, a recap of the March Social Media Conference in Newark and a discussion of the July 9 session on the Economy at Rutgers. 
  • Posting video commentary to the League web site regarding the League efforts at management reform and the League response to the State budget.
  • Deputing League Executive Director Bill Dressel to speak before the Atlantic County Mayors Association in Margate.
  • Meeting, by League President Mayor Chuck Chiarello and Executive Director Dressel, with Major General Glenn Rieth, National Guard, State Police Superintendent Joseph Fuentes, DEP Commissioner Bob Martin, Corrections Commissioner Gary Lanigan, Attorney General Paula Dow , DCA Commissioner Lori Grifa, DOT Commissioner Jim Simpson, Department of Health and Senior Services Acting Commissioner Mary O’Dowd  and State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff, to discuss ways the League can work together with their offices in developing better working relationships with our 566 municipalities.

Very truly yours,

 

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

 

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