October 10, 2012
RE: FROM TIME TO TIME – A Quarterly Report on the Activities of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, July-September, 2012
Here is an update on League activity during the third quarter of 2012.
We have advocated for municipalities in Trenton by …
- Battling against the misappropriation of municipal Affordable Housing Trust Fund dollars to support State spending.
- Testifying before the Red Tape Review Commission on the local purchasing mandates, followed by meetings with the Lt. Governor's staff and legislative staff regarding the issues we raised in our testimony.
- Fighting for the restoration of vital property tax relief funding (ETR and CMPTRA) that has been diverted to support State spending.
- Backing efforts by the BPU, under President Bob Hanna, to improve power utility planning and performance before, during and after severe weather events.
- Supporting common-sense extensions to statute of limitations restrictions to allow victims of abuse to recover damages from sexual predators.
- Contesting legislation that would exempt private colleges and universities from local land use regulations.
- Arguing against a bill that would preempt municipal regulation of ‘agricultural tourism’ events on preserved farmland.
- Opposing legislation that would require municipalities to reduce their tax levy cap by the amount of revenue raised by any user fees enacted after 2011.
- Working with Division of Local Government Services staff to improve “Best Practices” survey and to develop useful and practical “User friendly budget” document.
- Cooperating with the Society of Municipal Engineers in working with the Department of Transportation on regulatory refinements regarding the distribution and use of Transportation Trust Fund Local Aid funding.
- Meeting with stakeholders regarding the proposed changes to the delivery of Emergency Medical Services
- 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.
- Convening with stakeholders regarding the removal of a tenured statutory official for the purpose of entering into a shared service agreement
- Appealing a Tax Court decision that would permit corporate refusal to remit telecommunications business personal property taxes.
- Joining with stakeholders regarding concerns with pending OPRA and Open Public Meetings Act amendments.
- Meeting by the Emergency Management and Preparedness Committee with BPU President Bob Hanna and representatives of the utilities to discuss the BPU report on utility response to emergencies.
- Continuing to work with the Civil Service “Title Consolidation” committee
- Participating in the Department of Health and Human Services quarterly Registrar meetings.
We have advocated for municipalities in Washington by …
- Advocating for the Marketplace Equity Act (H.R. 3179), which would put Main Street businesses on equal footing with internet merchants by permitting state and, where allowed by State law, local governments the flexibility to require the seller to collect the sales taxes on remote purchases—not raising existing taxes or imposing new ones.
- Supporting continued and increased Federal Transportation funding and Community Development Block Grant funding.
- Promoting amendments to the “Farm Bill,” (H.R. 6083), including: “Farm-to-School” provisions to allow local school districts to make their own food purchases to promote locally farm-grown foods; “Farmers’ Market Policy Provisions” to fund community-support agriculture programs, farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and other direct marketing strategies; and “Rural Development Funding” to restore $50 million in mandatory funding to address the backlog in water and wastewater applications from local governments.
- Backing the Disaster Declaration Improvement Act (H.R. 5870), which will ensure that small to mid-size municipalities located in large counties and states receive similar consideration for disaster declarations at the federal level and related federal disaster relief funding.
We have strengthened local leadership capacity by …
- Delivering 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.
- Partnering with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection on, and providing local officials with access to information about, the 2012 New Jersey Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards.
- Reminding local leaders that this year’s unusually high mosquito activity is contributing to the spread of the West Nile virus, and asking them to use their outreach resources to remind resident that they can protect themselves by using repellent, wearing long sleeves, long pants, and by removing standing water on their property, to curtail mosquito breeding opportunities.
- Inviting participation and reporting on the outcome of the National League of Cities hosted Webinar dealing with new Facebook policies regarding municipal government pages on that site, thanks to the expertise of League General Counsel Bill Kearns and League WebMaster Dr. Morris Enyeart.
- Publicizing and putting local officials in touch with the excellent 9/11 programs produced by the New Jersey State Museum that are available to municipalities statewide to enhance local 9/11 commemorative and educational offerings.
- Providing Mayors and other municipal officials with the responses of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and State Senator Joe Kyrillos to a candidates’ questionnaire, so that local officials and their constituents are familiar with the senatorial candidates’ positions on municipal issues.
- Holding Professional Development Seminars for Municipal Officials on the topics of:
- Labor Negotiations
- Grant Writing
- Pensions and Benefits
- Broadband Communication Networks
We have provided municipal officials with resources for problem solving by …
- Publishing the 3rd edition of the 19th volume of Arbitration Reporters in September.
- Presenting the NJLM Educational Foundation’s annual economic summit, at which presenters analyzed, from the state, regional and national perspectives, New Jersey’s recovery from the great recession.
- Partnered with the Mercer County Regional Chamber of Commerce in presenting a half day educational session in East Windsor on the DEP Waiver process, with League First Vice President and East Windsor Mayor Janice Mironov presiding and League Environmental Counsel Lou Goldshore speaking, along with other environmental experts from the DEP and private sector.
- Advising local leaders of Walmart’s National Hunger Action Month programs and initiatives.
- Notifying local officials of the availability of Department of Health and Senior Services’ funding, from the Hepatitis Inoculation Fund, for the reimbursement of costs of hepatitis B inoculations for certain emergency medical technicians, firefighters and police officers.
- Working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to organize and promote our “Hiring Our Heroes” mega job fair at the Sun National Bank Center in Trenton on Wednesday, September 12, to assist our service members & their spouses in finding meaningful employment and to serve America’s employers by enabling them access to the pool of talented men and women who serve as America’s Citizen Warriors.
- Preparing and posting Sample Resolutions concerning: A-2681 and A-2405/S-1651, which deal with the statute of limitations on civil actions for sexual abuse; and A-323/S-2074 – Permits “Agricultural Tourism” Activities on Preserved Farmland.
- Publishing an updated Open Public Meetings Act compliance guide.
- Deputing League Executive Director Bill Dressel to speak before the Atlantic County Mayors Association meeting in Estelle Manor.
- Advised local officials and provided access to the Office of the State Comptroller’s report entitled “Improper Participation by Professional Service Providers in the State Pension System.”
- Working with the Urban Mayors Association on proposed Tax Sale procedures.
We have promoted municipal government by …
- Authoring several op-ed pieces regarding the restoration of the energy receipt tax, defending the principles of home rule, self-determination, the need for COAH 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.
- Conducting the Future Municipal Leaders Scholarship Competition, in cooperation with mayors’ offices across the state.
- Meeting of Eatontown Mayor and League Third Vice President Gerald Tarantolo and Education Foundation Chairman and Mount Arlington Mayor Art Ondish with Dr. Lynn Romeo, Dean, Monmouth University Education Department, to finalize arrangements for the 2012/2013 Mayors Book Club.
- Inviting Mayors and School Administrators from Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex Counties to participate in the 4th Annual Mayors Book Club.
- 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.
- Posting video commentary to the League web site regarding the League efforts at management reform and the League response to the State budget.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.