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June 28, 2011

Re:    I.          Governor Signs Pension and Health Benefit Reforms Legislation
         II.        League to offer seminars on “Understanding the New Pensions and Health Benefits Law”

Dear Mayor:

I.          Governor Signs Pension and Health Benefit Reforms Legislation

Today, League First Vice President Arthur Ondish Mayor of  Mount Arlington, and  Mayors Eldridge Hawkins of the City Orange and Wilda Diaz of Perth Amboy, Chair and Deputy Chair respectively of the League’s Management Reform Committee joined Governor Christie as he signed S-2937 and S-2959, the historic bipartisan pension and health benefit reform legislation into law.

Governor Christie signs the pension and health benefits reform bill

Governor speaking about the pension  and health benefits reform bill

Through the lead-up to the passage of the 2% cap on local government one year ago, the League argued that the cap should be the final piece, not the center piece, of reform.   The League called for reforms to arbitration, civil service and the pension and health systems before the implementation of the cap.  In this past year, virtually every municipality has been confronted with difficult, often draconian, budget choices, forcing furloughs, service reductions and personnel reductions, even reduction to public safety services.      In future years, these pension and health benefit reforms will slow the growth of personnel costs and provide some badly needed property tax relief. 

Orange Mayor Eldridge Hawkins stated that “this landmark pension and health benefit legislation is an important step toward enabling our municipalities to balance their budgets without layoffs and service reductions.  But more remains to be done to protect taxpayers and maintain basic services.  I want to thank all the Mayors who joined us in standing up for tax payers by testifying before the Senate and Assembly committees for the fair reform we so desperately needed.”

Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz said, “We are heartened that these actions will safeguard and preserve a stable pension and health benefits system for present and future government employees and retirees.”

The League commends Governor Chris Christie, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver for their leadership championing these bipartisan reforms, while achieving an important balance for all the major stakeholders.  The League also commends and thanks the others sponsors of the pension and health benefit reform legislation, including Assemblymen Louis Greenwald and Declan O’Scanlon and Senators Joseph Pennacchio and Jennifer Beck.

While the bill takes effect immediately, Section 80 of the bill permits a delayed implementation of the health care premium share for “necessary administrative actions for collection”.  Further, such contributions cannot be applied retroactively.  The four year phase in period will begin on the first day of collection.
For more information on the Pension and Health Benefit reforms please see our Dear Mayor letters of June 24th regarding the proposed Pension Changes and proposed Health Benefit Changes.

We will continue to provide you guidance as it becomes available.  If you have any questions or need additional information on these reforms please contact Lori Buckelew at lbuckelew@njslom.com or 609-695-3481 x112.

II.        League to offer seminars on “Understanding the New Pensions and Health Benefits Law”

The League has scheduled a seminar to quickly orient you on implementing the new pension and health benefits law.  At this seminar, you will learn employer’s responsibilities, implementation time frames, steps for compliance, and how the new law impacts existing contracts or contacts soon to be renewed and much more.

The seminar is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon on the following dates/locations:

Friday, July 22, 2011
Meyner Reception Center at PNC Bank Arts Center
Exit 116, Garden State Parkway, Holmdel NJ

OR

Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Conference Center at Mercer
1200 Old Trenton Road
West Windsor, NJ

The seminar panelists are Florence J. Sheppard, Acting Director NJ Department of Treasury, Division of Pensions and Benefits and Marc H. Pfeiffer, Deputy Director, NJ Department of Community Affairs, Division of Local Government Services.

To register for the seminar visit:
http://www.njslom.org/seminar-documents/2011-july-22-27-pensions.html.

Very truly yours,

 

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

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