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December 5, 2014

RE: Weekly Policy Update

I. NJ Supreme Court Schedules Oral Argument on  Fair Share COAH Motion
II.
League Testimony on TTF
III.
Moody’s Report Bullish on NJ Municipalities

Dear Mayor:

Here is a brief update on legislative and policy issues of interest to municipalities.

I. NJ Supreme Court Schedules Oral Argument on  Fair Share COAH Motion

We learned yesterday that the NJ Supreme Court has scheduled oral argument on January 6, 2015 on Fair Share Housing Center’s (FSHC) motion to enforce litigant’s rights.    In its motion, FSHC asks the Court to declare that municipalities are no longer protected from litigation by the COAH administrative process.    Further, FSHC is asking: that litigation against municipalities proceed on a case-by-case basis; that the Court give “general guidance” to the lower courts by designating certain judges to handle the cases regionally; that proceedings be consolidated; that the Court  direct the lower courts to abide by the previous COAH methodology; and that the courts should proceed with dispatch.  
The League’s response opposes FSHC’s motion by asking that:         

  • The Court should afford COAH the opportunity to complete the task it started and either adopt the regulation as proposed,  simultaneously propose any amendments or develop new regulations;
  • In no event, should municipalities that have filed with the agency be stripped of the protection from builder’s remedy litigation; and
  • If the Court determines that this issue must be resolved outside the agency, it should do so surgically, beginning with the body of regulations developed by COAH, and then return enforcement to the agency.

The League’s response brief is online at: http://www.njslom.org/legislation/NJLM_PDF111314.pdf.   The State also filed a motion in opposition to FSHC.    The League will continue to advise you of all developments.  Please bring this notice to the attention of your land use attorneys and planners.  Contact: Mike Cerra, mcerra@njslom.com or 609-695-3481 x120.

II. League Testimony on TTF

On Monday, Mayor Brian Wahler, President of the League and Mayor of Piscataway and Timothy McDonough, Past President of the League and Mayor of Hope Township will testify before the Senate Transportation Committee on the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF).   In their remarks Mayors Wahler and McDonough will focus on the League’s priorities for the TTF:

  • The reauthorization of the Transportation Trust Fund to ensure adequate and reliable funding to meet State and local transportation infrastructure funding needs for the next 10 years.
  • Increase Local Aid funding to ensure adequate and reliable funding to meet all local transportation infrastructure needs. The NJDOT reports New Jersey municipalities are responsible for 64% of road miles and, along with county governments, 39% of bridges in New Jersey.
  • Support the increase of the municipal share of Local Aid funding and ensure fair funding for all municipalities.

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

III. Moody’s Report Bullish on NJ Municipalities

Moody’s recently issued a report “New Jersey Cities and Counties Remain Resilient Despite State’s Credit Challenges,” which affirms the position of the League as well as the Association of Counties in regard to the preservation of the local health and pension benefit funding.   In the fall, the League’s Officers submitted a statement to Governor Christie’s Blue Ribbon Pension and Health Benefit Study Commission.
While the League commends the Governor and the Commission for their attention to the problems underlying the State’s funding crisis, we wanted the Commission to be aware of the fact that the experts have always made a distinction between local commitments for local employees and retirees, and the commitments for those for whom the State is responsible.  According to the latest valuation reports, the local government Public Employees Retirement System (local PERS) and the local Police and Fire Retirement System (local PFRS) are actuarially sound, in large part due to the fact that municipalities and counties have made full employer contributions as required under the law for over a decade.  The Final Report and Recommendations of the Study Commission should not address State government funding gaps by, in any way, weakening the vitality of the local plans. 

For more, please see the League’s October 9 Dear Mayor letter at: http://www.njslom.org/letters/2014-1009-Pension.html.  NJ Spotlight has a good article summarizing the issues at:  http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/14/12/03/moody-s-new-jersey-s-pension-funds-could-run-dry-in-just-10-years/

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

We hope you find this helpful.

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

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