August 26, 2010
Re: Assembly Committee Hearing on Unfunded Mandates
Today in Trenton, Mayor John Bencivengo of Hamilton Township (Mercer) and Mayor Anthony Persichilli of Pennington Borough, co-chairs of the League of Municipalities’ Mandates Relief Committee (left photo above), were joined by Marianne Smith, Manager of Hardyston Township, and Richard Krawczun, Manager of Lawrence Township, Mercer County (right photo above)), to present testimony on unfunded State mandates.
Unfunded mandates have force local budget makers to address a laundry list of State imposed requirements before, and often at the expenses of, locally determined programs and services. For decades, they have constituted a major driving force behind property tax increases. In July, Speaker Sheila Oliver made Assemblyman John McKeon the Assembly’s point man on mandates relief.
“We thank Assemblyman John McKeon, the members of the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee, as well as Speaker Sheila Oliver, for scheduling this hearing, said Mayor Persichilli. “We sincerely appreciate this opportunity to discuss some of the unfunded mandates that can be relaxed, reformed or repealed, so that we can continue to deliver vital local programs and services, while keeping a lid on property taxes.”
“Local governments are at a crisis point with State mandates, decisions by interest arbitrators granting significant salary increases to uniform police and firemen, reductions of State revenue replacement funding, rigid non yielding environmental regulations and COAH requirements,” said Mayor Bencivengo. “Absent State attention to these issues, there is little relief for property taxpayers in sight.”
Building on information originally compiled by Hardyston Administrator Marianne Smith, we had provided the Lieutenant Governor’s Red Tape Review Group with a comprehensive list of unfunded mandates. Some of the major mandates from that list that were presented in Trenton today included Stormwater Management mandates, binding interest arbitration reform, civil service reform and COAH requirements. Ms. Smith and Mr. Krawczun provided details on how these and other State mandates impose increased burdens on property taxpayers all around the State.
During today’s hearing Assemblyman McKeon noted he will be holding future hearings on shared services, consolidation and civil service bumping rights.
Action on these issues can provide almost immediate relief for our taxpayers. But to be of any benefit in 2011, the Legislature needs to address unfunded mandates very soon. Accordingly, we commend Speaker Oliver and Chairman McKeon for their leadership on unfunded mandates relief.
If you have any questions or need additional information please contact Mike Cerra at firstname.lastname@example.org or (609)695-3481, ext 120.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.