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March 14, 2008

Re:     I    Budget Cuts More Action Needed

Dear Mayor:

We know that many of you have already reached out to your State Legislators and contacted the Governor’s Office, opposing the proposed $190 million municipal property tax relief funding cuts. By explaining your municipality’s budget, your constituents’ service needs and the economies that you have already implemented, you have already made a difference in the debates.

For our part, so far, in addition to keeping you informed on the latest developments, we have been doing what we need to do to focus State leaders on the impact of these cuts to municipalities all around the State. At two meetings in Trenton, we have asked the Governor and other key State policy makers to speak and to listen to you. Governor Corzine, Treasurer Rousseau and Commissioner Doria now better understand the particular problems that these arbitrary cuts will impose. They know that any municipal property tax relief funding cuts may need to be phased in. And they agree that property tax relief needs to be predictable, substantial and sustainable. But they remain committed to cutting State spending.

While this may pit us against the beneficiaries of other State programs, we CANNOT let it pit us against each other.

We have written to the Governor and to all Legislators, opposing the cuts. We have written two op-eds and numerous Press Advisories on the topic. Our First Vice President, Mayor McDonough, and Helmetta Mayor Martin have testified before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee in opposition to the cuts. Next week, our President, Mayor Bowser, will testify before the Assembly Budget Committee. We are coordinating more testimony at future meetings by local officials all around the State. And we have met with many individual Legislators, including the Senate and Assembly Minority Leaders, in opposition to the cuts.

The Administration, the Legislature and the State House Press Corps are all now well aware of the problems that would follow the cuts.

Still, more can be done.

We will continue to button-hole lawmakers in Trenton. If you haven’t already done so, we urge you to work with the League Executive Board Member for your county and your County League and Mayors’ Association to contact your District Legislators. If you need any assistance with this, don’t hesitate to contact our Legislative Relations staff.

We’d also like for you to submit a letter to the “Mayors’ Sound Off” section (http://www.njslom.org/mayor-budget-comments.html .) of our website, www.njslom.com . In just two weeks, we’ve already had over 1,000 hits on that page.

If you haven’t yet done so, please pass a resolution opposing the cuts. Emphasize your local circumstances and feel free to use the sample, accessible at http://www.njslom.org/ml030308.html as a template. We have heard that these resolutions are being read in the Governor’s Office and that they are having an impact.

We would also suggest engaging local civic organizations, such as local Chambers of Commerce, and ask their support for full restoration of municipal property tax relief funding.

We invite you to visit http://www.njslom.org/2009-budget-main.html for frequent updates on developments. And feel free to call me directly at 609-915-9072 for any help at all.

Thank you.

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

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