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April 15, 2013

Re:     Governor Takes Action on Legislation
            I.          Signs S-589, Farmland Assessment Law Changes
            II.        Vetoes S-2425, Project Labor Agreements Changes

Dear Mayor:

Today, Governor Christie took action on several pieces of legislation, including some, of interest to municipalities. 

I.          Signs S-589, Farmland Assessment Law Changes

The Governor signed into law S-589, which revises certain provisions of the farmland assessment law. The new law will take effect immediately and apply to tax year 2015.  S-589 makes various revisions to the “Farmland Assessment Act of 1964.”  Among the changes, the bill raises the minimum gross sales and payments standards for typical agricultural or horticultural lands from $500 to $1,000 to qualify for farmland assessment on the first five acres of land.  The minimum threshold will be reviewed by the State Farmland Evaluation Committee every three years or sooner. That Committee is authorized to adopt regulations to raise the amount of those minimums to levels the committee determines appropriate.   It also permits the municipality, county or state to impose a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for a gross and intentional misrepresentation on an application to qualify for farmland assessment.  The penalties collected are to be divided equally between the entity imposing the fine and the State.  The monies collected by the penalty must be dedicated to administering and enforcing the “Farmland Assessment Act of 1964.”    In addition,  the bill requires the State Board of Agriculture and the Department of Agriculture to develop guidelines describing generally accepted agricultural and horticultural practices, which are to be distributed to, and which may be used by, municipal and county tax assessors, county tax administrators, and other appropriate local government officials to assist them in determining whether land may be deemed to be in agricultural use, horticultural use, or actively devoted to agricultural or horticultural use pursuant to the “Farmland Assessment Act of 1964.” 

II.        Vetoes S-2425, Project Labor Agreements Changes

Governor Christie vetoed S-2425, which revises the definition of "public works projects" to permit project labor agreements for more projects.  Specifically, S-2425 would have removed from the definition of “public works project” all references to the kind of structure or improvement, instead of identifying a project only as “construction, reconstruction, demolition or renovation.”  This change would have extended the option of using Project Labor Agreements to projects currently excluded under the law, such as highways, bridges, pumping stations and water and sewage treatment plants.

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director




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