February 8, 2012
Re: 20th Annual Mayors’ Legislative Day Recap
(scroll down for photo album)
Earlier today, over 150 of your colleagues from all around New Jersey gathered in Trenton for the League’s 20th Annual Mayors’ Legislative Day. The meeting opened with League President Art Ondish, Mayor of Mount Arlington, asking key Christie Administration leaders to outline their priorities for the coming year.
Department of Community Affairs Acting Commissioner Richard Constable talked about new directions in compliance with affordable housing requirements and actions needed to address coming foreclosures on residential properties. Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin focused on the importance of a streamlined permitting process, a holistic, regional approach to environmental problems and sustainable management of New Jersey’s parks and recreational assets. Department of Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson praised the work of DOT employees in developing strategies to do more with less, through the intelligent application of technological solutions to problems ranging from traffic congestion and pothole repair, to snowplowing and transit capacity. Newly appointed Board of Public Utilities President Robert Hanna talked about the need to hold utilities accountable for unacceptable maintenance and timely repair of equipment, conduits and rights of way, and of the need to modernize utility operations.
Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno addressed the audience, detailing her work with the Red Tape Review Commission and discussing the Commission’s latest findings and recommendations. (You can see the Commission’s full report at http://www.nj.gov/state/pdf/2012-0208-red-tape-review-report.pdf.) She also spoke about her economic redevelopment initiatives and invited input into the Governor Christie’s State Strategic Plan. The Lieutenant Governor stressed her hope that local officials would contact her with any problems arising from bureaucratic requirements, with any needs relating to economic redevelopment and with recommendations regarding the State Plan. With unprecedented openness, the Lieutenant Governor shared her cell phone number and invited local officials to contact her at any time on matters of mutual concern.
In an emotional ceremony, Mayor Ondish presented Assemblywoman-select Betty Lou DeCroce with a League Resolution, honoring her late husband, Assembly Republican Leader Alex DeCroce. Assemblywoman-select DeCroce was joined by family members and by members of the Assembly and Assembly Republican staff, who had worked closely with Assemblyman DeCroce, over the course of decades.
This was followed by a panel discussion of State and local leaders, moderated by long-time Statehouse reporter, Jim McQueeny. The panel included State Senators Paul Sarlo, Sam Thompson, Linda Greenstein, Assemblymen Vincent Prieto, Declan O’Scanlon, David Rible and Mayors Dana Redd of Camden, Janice Mironov of East Windsor and Suzanne Walters of Stone Harbor. The discussion topics covered included pay for unused sick leave, shared services incentives and penalties, civil service reform, and the impact of declining property values, resulting in tax appeals and increasing funds dedicated to the reserve for uncollected taxes, on levy capped municipal budgets.
The topic that generated the most enthusiastic support from those in attendance was the need to end the State diversion of Energy Tax and CMPTRA funding. Several legislators stated their agreement, in principle, and their hope to address the problem, when the State’s financial situation improves.
The program concluded with the presentation of certificates to the new class of inductees into the League’s Elected Officials’ Hall of Fame. These dedicated men and women have completed at least two decades of service to their fellow citizens in elected local office.
Photos of the Day’s activities are posted on our website: www.njslom.org. Mayors’ Legislative Day is an annual highlight of the League’s continuous efforts to keep local elected officials informed on what’s happening in the State Capital and how that can affect you and your constituents. We invite you get more involved in our intergovernmental affairs services. If you would like to serve on our Legislative Committee, which develops League responses to State public policy initiatives, or if you have any ideas on how we could improve this service, please contact me at 609-695-3481, ext. 122 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.
(Click on any photo for a larger version)
Photos by Hal Brown Photography