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December 8, 2011

Re: Senate Budget Appropriation Hearing on S-2794
Encouraging Shared Services with voter penalty

Dear Mayor:

Today in Trenton, the Senate Budget Appropriations Committee today released with amendments S-2794, which encourages local unit sharing of services.  The vote was as follows:

Support:    Senators Beach, Cunningham, Greenstein, Ruiz, VanDrew, Bucco, Doherty,
                   Oroho, O’Toole and Pennacchio
Opposed:  Senators Sarlo and Buono
Abstain:     Senator Stack

League President and Mt. Arlington Mayor Art Ondish was joined by Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr, representing the Conference of Mayors, William G. Dressel, Jr. League Executive Director and League’s Inter-local Services/Management Coordinator, Greg Fehrenbach in testifying in opposition to the bill.  

We support the amended provisions of the bill that remove of the following obstacles to sharing services:

  • Repeals the law requiring seniority, tenure and pension rights for law enforcement officers
  • Repeals the law requiring the hiring of health officers and staff at the same salary
  • Suspends Civil Service regulations on seniority, selection, appointment, layoff and bumping
  • Eliminates terminal leave payment
  • Limits the current absolute rights to reemployment

The amendments also removed the ability of LUARCC to order a consolidation or shared service.  However, the most objectionable provision of the bill is still found in Section 7.f. It provides that:

(1)  If a majority of the voters of a municipality do not approve a shared services proposal, or if a municipality or other entity identified in a proposed shared services agreement does not enter into and implement the proposed shared services agreement within 14 months following voter approval, the State shall annually reduce the total amount of State aid allocated to that municipality or entity by the total net savings estimated in the proposal pursuant to subsection b. of section 7 of P.L.2007, c.54 (C.52:27D-507).  No municipality shall be subject to an aid reduction for its refusal to comply with a consolidation recommendation or proposal for the commission.

In other words, the voters would be threatened with the diminishment of future property tax relief funding, if they do not vote in favor of a LUARCC recommendation.

Beyond the fact “State aid,” is undefined, we must oppose any proposal which would, on the one hand, allow the voters to express their will; but, on the other hand, inform those voters that they will be punished, if their will does not comport with that of a majority of the appointed members of the LUARCC.

It cannot be argued that taxpaying voters who democratically reject an option offered them by an agency of the State bureaucracy should, thereby, forfeit their right to property tax relief funding. As taxpaying citizens of the State of New Jersey, they must be allowed the unencumbered right to determine the future government of their communities. And they must be assured equitable access to the benefits secured by their own tax dollars.

We thank the Senator Sweeney and his staff for involving Mayors and county officials in the early work on the issue.  We also thank Senator Sweeney for agreeing to meet with us to discuss our continued concerns with the bill.

We urge you to reach out to your State Senator and Assembly representatives expressing these concerns.

For more information please contact Lori Buckelew at 609-695-3481 x112 or at lbuckelew@njslom or Mike Cerra at 609-695-3481 x120 or mcerra@njslom.com.

 

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

 

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