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April 8, 2011

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

Dear Mayor:

Here is an update on League activity during the first three months of 2011.

We have advocated for municipalities in Trenton by

  • Promoting Legislative action on management reforms and mandates relief initiatives.
  • Advocating for, and meeting with the sponsors and administration on, pension and health care benefit reform.
  • 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.
  • Meeting with the Civil Service Commission regarding temporary furloughs
  • Working with a coalition to stop deregulation of the cable TV industry that would hurt municipal interests.
  • Working to protect ‘level’ municipal revenue replacement funding in the State’s next budget and to secure assurances of a phase-in of full funding over the next few years.
  • Opposing a threat that would permit the State to retain revenue replacement funding, if voters reject a shared service or consolidation proposal put forward by the bureaucracy in Trenton.
  • Arguing in the Tax Court against a corporate refusal to remit telecommunications business personal property taxes.
  • Battling against potentially costly and cumbersome public records and public meetings mandates.
  • Promoting appropriate tort reforms to protect local taxpayers from liabilities resulting from actions and events beyond local control.

We have advocated for municipalities in Washington by

  • Promoting full level funding for the Community Development Block Grant program in the current Federal budget.
  • Organizing our CDBG Funding Task Force, co-chaired by League First Vice President and Mount Arlington Mayor Art Ondish and League Past President and Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage.
  • Urging our delegation to support The Keep Our PACT Act, which would require the Federal Government to provide 40% of the costs of educating children with disabilities, pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Although the federal government has long been authorized under IDEA to fund up to 40 percent, it has failed to ever reach that mark.
  • Urged our delegation to support the Everyone Deserves Unconditional Access to Education (EDUCATE) Act, which amends the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to reauthorize and make appropriations for the grant program to assist states and outlying areas in providing special education and related services to children with disabilities. This bill would phase in the full Federal 40% funding over a period of years, so as to limit its impact on the budget. It would authorize appropriations for FY2016 and thereafter that equal 40% of the amount determined using the formula.

We have strengthened local leadership capacity by …

  • Holding our annual Mayor’s Legislative Day.
  • We have held Professional Development Seminars for Municipal Officials on the topics of:

    Orientation of Newly Elected and Experienced Officials
    Mayor’s Legislative Day
    Executive Leadership Training for Mayors
    Interest Arbitration
    Personnel Policies and the Impact of Social Networking
    Budget and Audit Updates

  • 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 four 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.
  • Convening a meeting, staffed by 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.
  • Organizing, under the leadership of League Past President and Hope Mayor Tim McDonough, Chair of the League Emergency Management Task Force and League Executive Director Bill Dressel, a meeting at the State Police Headquarters in West Trenton hosted by the Superintendent and his OEM staff, who conducted a tour of the ROIC.

We have provided municipal officials with resources for problem solving by

  • Publishing the first edition of the 19th volume of Arbitration Reporters in March.
  • 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.
  • Co-producing, with the School Board Association, a day-long program that featured presentations and interaction on how municipalities and school districts can collaborate to produce efficiencies that will help both remain under the 2% cap. 
  • Posting downloads and videos related to that session on the League web site.
  • Working through the NJLM Educational Foundation to produce an informative half day event “Local Law Enforcement Strategies: Technology and New Management Models”
  • Contributing to State Office of Information Technology efforts to plan a statewide Digital Government Summit.
  • Deputing League Executive Director Bill Dressel to address the Ocean County Mayors Association at their February meeting in Toms River.
  • Deputing Senior Legislative Analyst Jon Moran to address the Atlantic County League of Municipalities at their March meeting in Buena Vista Township.

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/njlofm)
  • 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 plans for a 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.
  • 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  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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