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May 29, 2012


I.   Thursday Senate Vote on User Fee Legislation
II.  Affordable Housing, COAH Trust Funds, Senate Bill Introduced

Dear Mayor:

I. Thursday Senate Vote on User Fee Legislation

This Thursday, S-1914, which requires certain user fees for the provision of traditional municipal services to be included within the 2% municipal and county property tax levy cap, will be before the full Senate for vote.  (For more information see our May 18 Dear Mayor letter

During last Thursday’s Senate Quorum, S-1914 was amended.  The first amendment, removed the recent amendment of exempting “amounts collected from insurance carriers pursuant to a fire response cost recovery ordinance or agreement” from the definition of traditional municipal user fees.  The second amendment exempts “fees anticipated to be collected by a municipality on behalf of another government entity when the municipality does not set the fee rate and the fee collection arrangement existed on the effective date of this bill” from the definition of user fees for traditional municipal services.  

While there have been amendments, the definition of “traditional municipal services” remains flawed.  The open-ended definition is confusing and leads to multiple interpretations.  The bill continues to affect only municipalities ignoring the typically largest portions of the property tax bill – the schools and counties.   We strongly urge you to contact your State Senator and Assembly representatives to advise them on how S-1914/A-2975 will adversely affect your ability to meet the delivery of services that your residents expect and urge them to vote no on S-1914

In addition, if you have not done so already we urge you to adopt the following sample resolution opposing S-1914:

Word –

User fees are not a new budgeting tool; nor is there a statewide effort by municipalities to circumvent the 2% levy cap.  Local governments enact user fees to recapture some of the costs for services provided in their community.  In fact, as part of their Memorandum of Understanding with Transitional Aid municipalities the Division of Local Government Services requires a Transitional Plan that includes  “…a plan to maximize recurring revenues, including but not limited to: updating fees, fines and penalties...”  User fees provide a direct connection between what people pay and what they get, and good pricing encourages efficiency by providing a ready comparison to private sector competition.

The Assembly companion, A-2975, is assigned to the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee. 

If you have any questions or need additional information do not hesitate to contact Lori Buckelew at 609-695-3481 x112 or

II.   Affordable Housing, COAH Trust Funds, Senate Bill Introduced

Senator Brian Stack (D-33) sponsors S-2011, the Senate companion to A-2950, which allows an additional 2 years for the commitment of affordable housing trust fund dollars.
As introduced, A-2950 and S-2011 will:

  1.  Extend the deadline to commit trust fund dollars from four years from the date of collection to six years.  Thus, dollars subject to forfeiture to the State this July would be protected until July 2014; and 
  2. Provide that any dollars forfeited after six years will either be transferred to the State Affordable Housing Trust Fund, or to the County if it has established a “Homelessness Trust Fund pursuant to NJSA 52:27D-287(e)  or if it serves an “urban county pursuant to section 102(a)(6) of the “Housing and Community Development Act of 1974.”   This provision allows for the trust fund dollars to be retained and used locally.

If your municipality is at risk of forfeiting its housing trust fund dollars, we urge to reach out to your State legislators and ask them to support A-2950 and S-2011.    For more on this legislation, please see our May 16 Dear Mayor letter.    Questions can be directed to Mike Cerra at 609-695-3481 x120 or

Very truly yours,


William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director




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