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April 7, 2014

Re:  DCA Commissioner Constable Answers Assembly Budget Committee Questions on the Budget

Dear Mayor:

Today in Trenton, Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Richard E. Constable, III appeared before the Assembly Budget Committee to present the Department’s perspective on the proposed State Budget for next fiscal year and to answer questions posed by members of the Committee. You can access the Commissioner’s testimony at www.njleg.state.nj.us/legislativepub/budget_2015/DCA_Constable_testimony.pdf

The Legislature’s Office of Legislative Services (OLS) has also posted its analysis of the Department’s proposed budget at www.njleg.state.nj.us/legislativepub/budget_2015/DCA_analysis.pdf  . Prior to the hearing, OLS forwarded a series of budget-related questions to DCA. Those questions and the Department’s responses are also posted online at www.njleg.state.nj.us/legislativepub/budget_2015/DCA_response.pdf.

A number of issues were addressed in one or more of those sources, including:

  • DCA’s administration of Sandy recovery programs;
  • The pace of Sandy recovery efforts, the award of grants and problems posed by Federal (FEMA and HUD) compliance requirements;
  • Federal and State resources provided, through the Department, to municipalities and other local governments recovering from the impact of Sandy
  • A provision in the proposed budget that would expand eligibility for Transitional Aid to any local government, in addition to any municipality, experiencing distress;
  • The elimination of Meadowlands Adjustment Payment Aid;
  • The elimination of Open Space PILOT funding for any municipality that received less than $5,000 in State Fiscal Year 2010 (calendar 2009);
  • The continued diversion to the State’s General Fund of Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) sales tax receipts (about $80 million) normally dedicated to infrastructure improvements and economic development in the UEZ ;
  • Provisions in the proposal relating to the Consolidation Implementation reimbursement program ($8.5 million) for any local entities (including, but not limited to municipalities)that have consolidated or entered into a shared service;
  • The shift of $5.5 million from the Consolidated Municipal Property Tax Relief Aid (CMPTRA) to the Energy Tax Receipts Property Tax Relief (Energy Receipts) fund to avoid the Energy receipts “poison pill,” while providing combined Energy Receipts/CMPTRA level funding; and
  • Expanding the basis for Best Practices Inventory  non-compliance withholding to include, in the scoring, non-compliance with “a statute, regulation, or Executive Order in effect prior to the commencement of the previous fiscal year

In response to a question from Committee Vice Chair Assemblyman John Burzichelli, Commissioner Constable stated that the Department will comply with the Supreme Court decision regarding the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH). For more on that decision, please see our March 14 letter at www.njslom.org/letters/2014-0314-COAH.html.

In response to a question from Assemblyman Troy Singleton regarding the State’s continued reliance on dedicated municipal property tax relief funding (CMPTRA/Energy Receipts), the Commissioner responded that this budget proposes the continuation of the past practice, begun in SFY 2003 (calendar 2002). He further cited State budgetary constraints, noting the 94 per cent of all revenue growth will be needed to meet State employee pension and benefits obligations and for debt interest payments.

Commissioner Constable concluded his prepared testimony by noting the drastically reduced rate of property tax levy increases. For this, he credited the 2010 and 2011 bipartisan reforms, including the 2 per cent cap on binding arbitration awards that expired last week. He called on the members of the Committee to take action to reinstate that cap.

For more information, please contact Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext. 121 or jmoran@njslom.com

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

 

 

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