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June 13, 2014

Re:       SCR-84/ACR-130, Open Space Funding

Dear Mayor:

The League has long supported the identification of a long-term, sustained funding source for  the preservation and stewardship of open space, park, farmland and historic sites, provided that none of this funding be reallocated from any municipal funding.  League Resolution 2012-4, "Supporting Sustainable State Funding for Preservation and Stewardship of Open Space, Park, Farmland and Historic Sites in New Jersey" was adopted at our Annual Business Meeting on December 5, 2012. 

New Jersey has a long, successful and laudable history of preserving open space, parks and farmland. The New Jersey Green Acres program has helped to preserve over 650,000 acres of land and supported more than 1,100 park development projects over the past 50 years, and the State Agricultural Development Committee has preserved 200,000 acres of farmland over the past 30 years. Municipalities have been key partners and direct beneficiaries of these valuable state preservation programs.

Substantial unmet needs and significant worthwhile projects remain for land and water protection, farmland preservation and park development for the health and welfare of our communities and residents. Good land and environmental policy have long term beneficial results.

SCR-84 and ACR-130 would authorize a voter referendum to amend the State Constitution to dedicate 4% of corporation business tax (CBT) and change the amounts allocated to the various environmental programs funded by the existing dedication of 4% of the revenue annually collected from the CBT, and add a new allocation category, beginning on July 1, 2015.  It would increase the annual dedication from 4% to 6%, beginning on July 1, 2019.  The revenues to be constitutionally dedicated would be used:

(1)        To preserve and steward open space (Green Acres), farmland, historic sites, and flood-prone areas (Blue Acres);
(2)        For water resources programs and projects;
(3)        For polluted site cleanups; and
(4)        For underground tank removal and cleanup. 

Moneys dedicated by the proposed constitutional amendment to preserving open space or flood-prone areas may also be used for the development of those lands for recreation and conservation purposes.  There is no anticipated impact on the current funding in the State budget until 2019.

SCR-84 is poised for a vote before the State Senate later this month, and could also be scheduled for an Assembly approval.  A 2/3rd majority in each house will be needed to place the place the question on the ballot this November.  A simple majority in each House this year and next year will allow the question to go on the ballot next year. 

We would suggest contacting your State Legislators to express your views on SCR-84 and
ACR-130.

Questions on this legislation can be directed to Mike Cerra at 609-695-3481 x120 or mcerra@njslom.com.

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

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