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March 2, 2010

FROM TIME TO TIME – A Quarterly Report on the Activities Of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, October 2009 – February, 2010

Dear Mayor:

Due to all of the activity during the Lame Duck session, and the arrival of the new Administration and Legislature in Trenton, we failed to produce our last Quarterly report at the end of the 2009 Accordingly this update covers five months of intense action. We apologize for that and thank you for your forbearance. We hope to return to our regular production schedule when the current quarter ends on March 31.

We have advocated for municipalities in Trenton by

  • Combating a bill that would have given the Local Unit Alignment, Reorganization and Consolidation Commission (LUARCC) much broader powers to circumvent the wills of local officials and voters, regarding municipal services.
  • Combating efforts to define facilities that supply electrical energy produced from wind, solar or photovoltaic technologies as an ‘inherently beneficial use’ pursuant to the Municipal Land Use Law.
  • Working with Legislators for amendments to lessen the impact of the “Qualified Purchasing Agent” bill; and working with Governor Corzine for a Conditional Veto to make the appointment permissive.
  • Advocating for passage of a bill, which would streamline the property tax reassessment process to permit the assessor to more easily and efficiently perform reassessments in a part of a taxing district.
  • Supporting legislation, which would permit municipalities to adopt ordinances requiring bonds from landlords in certain circumstances, by expanding the option currently available to many shore communities, to all municipalities statewide, and which fulfills the objective of a League conference resolution from a few years ago.
  • Arguing for distribution of December Consolidated Municipal Property Tax Relief Act (CMPTRA) funding, which was postponed and considered for elimination, in an effort by the Corzine Administration to close the State budget gap.
  • Supporting legislation, which outlines the criteria municipalities should consider when establishing speed limits.
  • Battling a bill, which would revise the definitions of “managerial executive” and “confidential employee” for state employees under the Public Employment Relations Act; and which would create a precedent, which would lead to a further expansion of the definition of non-exempt public employees to reach local municipalities.
  • Meeting with and assisted the Governor-elect Christie’s Red Tape Review Group and Transition Teams, to foster mandates relief and heightened State-local coordination of effort. Meeting with the new Administration’s key Cabinet members, Commissioners and Staff.
  • Advocating for passage of a package of public employee pension and benefit reform bills.

We have advocated for municipalities in Washington by

  • Continuing our efforts to keep you posted on all Stimulus funding opportunities.
  • Working with the National League of Cities (NLC) to convince the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to delay the implementation of the Red Flags Rule, which will require businesses, organizations and local governments to implement a written Identity Theft Prevention Program designed to detect and respond to the warning signs – or "red flags" – of identity theft in their day-to-day operations, until June 1, 2010. 
  • Cooperating with NLC and other public interest groups to forestall Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adoption of an order to set a cell tower siting "shot clock," which set presumptive deadlines of 90 days (for co-location applications) and 150 days (for all other wireless siting applications) within which a local government must act on wireless applications. 

We have strengthened local leadership capacity by

  • Conducting 9 professional development seminars and events for approximately 500 attendees with 13 more seminars planned for this Spring.  The League continually strives to meet the educational needs of its members, and welcomes suggested topics.
  • Holding the Annual Conference in Atlantic City in which some 18,000 local elected and appointed officials attended.  During the conference Lt. Guadagno held her first Red Tape Review Committee meeting, Governor Corzine and Governor Christie addressed the conference attendees and 125 educational sessions showed where critical bridges need to be developed if we are to get to the brighter horizon.
  • Hosting the Annual Mayors’ Legislative Day, which included presentations by new DCA Commissioner Lori Grifa and new DEP Commissioner Bob Martin, a panel discussion by key Legislative Leaders, induction ceremonies for our Elected Officials’ Hall of Fame, and a keynote address by Governor Christie.

.We have provided municipal officials with resources for problem solving by

  • Providing many educational sessions at the annual League Conference in November.
  • Continuing to provide several resource centers on our website including, but not limited to: the Grant Resource Center, the Aging and Senior Resource Center, a Purchasing Resource Center and an Ordinance Library.
  • Hosting and administering year-round education seminars to help local officials deal with and solve issues and problems at the municipal level.
  • Making available audio recordings of dozens of educational sessions from the Annual Conference
  • Providing an informational Legal Consultation Service through the Bureau of Municipal Information for municipal officials.
  • Keeping municipal officials advised of legal developments affecting municipalities.
  • Reviewing proposed regulations for municipal impact and commenting if appropriate. 

We have promoted municipal government by

  • Authoring several op-ed pieces defending the principles of home rule, self-determination, the need for COAH reform and property tax reform.   Multiple pieces ran in the Newark Star-Ledger, the Trenton Times, the Asbury Park Press, the Bergen Record and across the State.
  • Producing regular Media Alerts to the press, covering every aspect of new public policy developments in Trenton.

Very truly yours,

 

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director


 

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