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2012 Legislative Agenda                                                       New Jerset League of Municipalities

Making the Best of It

November 18, you honored me by electing me to serve as your President for the next 12
months. Thank you. This is a tremendous responsibility and a tremendous opportunity. I intend
to make the best of it.

Local officials are, by temperament and hard-earned training, problem solvers. We are neither Pollyannas nor pessimists. We are realists who refuse to surrender. We will maintain a positive mental attitude. And we'll get through our current crisis, as we have other challenges in the past, with more strength and vigor than we had at the beginning. We won't just survive. We will thrive.

On Tuesday, January 10, 2012, the 215th Legislature of the State of New Jersey will begin its first, of two, Annual Sessions. The Legislative process will start anew. Along with this new start should come a renewed commitment on our part to promote issues important to municipal government.

As your eyes, your ears and your voice in the State Capital, our six legislative agents will be vigilant to potential problems and possibilities. We know that we can count on them to always do their best to protect our interests and the interests of the property taxpayers, who have put their faith in us.

But we also know that they will need our help. Only with our active involvement will their communications with the Executive and Legislative Branches of State government carry the credibility on which they rely. The only way for us to give them the support that they need is by following the progress of legislation, which is important—in either a positive or a negative sense—to municipalities throughout our Garden State.

I urge you to read their regular "Legislative Update" column, which appears in each issue of our magazine, New Jersey Municipalities. I counsel you to scrutinize the "Legislative Bulletins," which we publish after every meeting of our Legislative Committee. I encourage you to heed the "Legislative Alert" letters, which are sent to you, as needed, to mark the progress of important
legislation through the law-making process. And I ask you to carefully consider the League's Legislative Priorities, which follow this letter.

Each letter is also a call to arms. When our staff write, they hope to help you to understand what is afoot in Trenton. However, they also hope that you will respond with action.

I urge you to get involved in the League's legislative efforts to the maximum extent that your other responsibilities allow. Working together, we can help our fellow public servants to make the best of our Garden State and our time in its service.

Very truly yours,

Arthur R. Ondish
Mayor, Mount Arlington Borough
President, New Jersey League of Municipalities

Legislative Priorities for 2012

LAND USE, AFFORDABLE HOUSING & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

    • Support reform to Affordable Housing policies.
    • Strengthen and support State programs designed to provide municipalities with the tools they need to attract and retain businesses, jobs and economic activity.
    • Fight to defend the rights of our citizens to shape the future and the character of their communities through local planning and zoning.
    • Terminate unnecessary and duplicative bureaucratic requirements, which inhibit the construction and renovation of sufficient safe and affordable housing, and which prevent the development of vibrant economic and recreational opportunities for the families of our fellow citizens..

PUBLIC SAFETY, PUBLIC HEALTH & ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

    • Promote policies that will permit communities to achieve and sustain compliance with appropriately high public safety, public health and environmental standards.
    • Champion policies that will save our young people from the scourge of gang violence.
    • Advocate for and promote policies that will permit municipal leaders to build greener and cleaner communities.
    • Support policies that will permit communities to utilize flexible solutions to site remediation problems.
    • Champion efforts to maintain, for future generations, the natural diversity which draws millions of visitors to our state, and to bequeath to our children a healthier and cleaner environment.

TAXATION, FINANCE & PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT

    • Continue to urge State policy-makers to honor State laws that promise Energy Tax, PILOTs and other revenue replacement funding to municipalities, so as not to further exacerbate the burden borne by New Jersey's families and small businesses.
    • Support significant arbitration reforms that will allow local leaders to address their public safety needs within the State-imposed, inflexible cap limits.
    • Champion significant civil service reforms that will allow local leaders to manage the municipal workforce effectively, efficiently and economically.
    • Articulate the need for further reforms, which might need to be effected by a special citizens' property tax reform convention.
    • Oppose all State policy proposals that would shift costs from the state to local governments, because such proposals will, inevitably, contribute to the property tax crisis.
    • Champion policies that will permit local governments, at their discretion, to jointly negotiate and enter into contracts so as to provide for our citizens the best possible
      supplies and services at the lowest possible rates.

TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE

  • Campaign for a sustainable and fair solution to our transportation infrastructure funding crisis, which must include a strong local aid component.
  • Coalesce support for programs designed to modernize our energy, water and environmental infrastructure.

INTERGOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS

    • Engage and facilitate discussions among public servants representing their fellow citizens at the local, state and federal level, in order to best meet the challenges and respond to the opportunities emerging from developments in our nation's and state's capital.
    • Confront existing mandates by supporting executive and legislative review and repeal or relaxation of unnecessary, unfunded requirements imposed on municipalities in the past, and remaining in effect, today.
    • Promote repeal of long-standing statutory impediments to greater intergovernmental cooperation.
    • Encourage and support opportunities to share services in order to reduce costs and improve efficiencies.
    • Defend the right of the people to govern themselves and determine the destiny of their own communities.

 

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