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October 3, 2014

Re:      Weekly Policy Update
I.   Bill Requiring 9-1-1 PSAP Capability Upgrades for Text Message Processing
Advances

II.  In Rem Tax Foreclosure Against Abandoned Properties
III.  Scrap Metal Bill Advances

Dear Mayor:

I.   Bill Requiring 9-1-1 PSAP Capability Upgrades for Text Message Processing Advances

The Assembly Appropriations Committee has released the Assembly Committee Substitute for A-3461 and A-3544 (ACS for A-3461/A-3544). Though we have serious concerns about the sufficiency of funding, the League of Municipalities supports this initiative.

This bill will require 9-1-1 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) to be equipped with systems approved by the Office of Emergency Telecommunications Services (OETS) for the processing of requests for emergency services sent via text message, within three years following enactment of the bill. To provide funding to cover the cost of the new technology, the bill would increase the 911 System and Emergency Response Fee by 10 percent. Currently, the 911 System and Emergency Response Fee, which is supposed to be used to fund the 911 system, is a $.90 monthly fee imposed on mobile service customers and telephone company customers in this state. This bill would increase the monthly fee to $.99. After three years, this increase would expire.

Text message technology may be the only safe way for some victims to communicate their danger to emergency dispatch. For a child hiding under a bed or in a closet, for a victim of human trafficking or domestic abuse, or for a speech- or hearing-disabled individual witnessing a crime, fire or accident, text messaging can be a life-saver. This is a technology that our 9-1-1 PSAPs need to have.

However, State policy makers need to appreciate the reasons for our concerns about the possible impact of this mandate on New Jersey property taxpayers. Due to other State budget priorities, no county or municipal PSAPs have received any 911 System and Emergency Response Fee funding, since 2008. Further, system maintenance and upgrade costs will continue to exist, after the three year fee increase sunsets.

We appreciate the sponsors’ effort to provide a funding source for the needed technology. We hope that State budget-makers will ensure sufficient financial support. We would welcome any efforts to assure local government that reliable funding for this technology will be dedicated for this purpose. Despite those concerns, however, we support ACS for A-3461/A-3544.

The bill is now set for final action in the General Assembly. Please contact your State legislators to express your support for the technology, and your concerns about the funding.

Contact: Jon Moran jmoran@njslom.com or 609-695-3481, ext. 121.

II. In Rem Tax Foreclosure Against Abandoned Properties
The League of Municipalities supports A-3357, which authorizes tax lien holders other than municipalities to institute In Rem tax foreclosure actions against abandoned properties.   Currently only a municipality can institute an In Rem Tax Foreclosure action.  A-3357 would expand the authority to permit a tax lien holder to institute an In Rem Tax Foreclosure action on abandoned property. 

An abandoned property may not have a mortgage on the property but can be delinquent in property taxes. If the abandoned property is far enough in the arrears the property could be eligible for a tax sale. A tax lien holder could purchase the tax lien and foreclosure on the property much quicker under A-3357. 

As such, A-3357 will expedite the process and help return abandoned properties to the tax rolls, thereby assisting municipal efforts to spur economic development.    A-3357 was approved by the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee on Thursday and now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.

Contact: Lori Buckelew, 609-695-3481x112 or lbuckelew@njslom.com.

III.   Scrap Metal Bill Advances

On Monday, the Assembly approved A-2074, strengthen New Jersey law concerning scrap metal sales and to stem the sale of stolen scrap metal.   

League Conference Resolution 2013-04, adopted as League policy on November 21, 2013, called on the Governor, the Attorney General, the Superintendent of the State Police and the State Legislature to develop and implement a comprehensive plan that includes increased reporting and tracking of the resale of any metal.       As this legislation advances these objectives, the League supports A-2074. 

Contact: Mike Cerra, 609-695-3481 x120, or mcerra@njslom.com

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

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