Reducing Property Taxes by Reducing Local Costs of State Mandates
Study of School Consolidation - Governor Appoints all County "Super" Superintendents by May 15. Report on Districts targeted for consolidation must be submitted to Dept. of Education by November 30.
LURAC first meeting in April. Report on Consolidation to Governor by November 30.
1. School Districts and Municipalities have authority to implement the State's defined contribution retirement benefit plan for all employees or maintain existing defined benefit plan.
2. Civil Service is suspended for 24 months for reorganization of local units to avert State and local fiscal crisis. This is the same step taken in the Camden Recovery legislation.
3. Municipalities and counties, by themselves or in agreements between themselves and with school districts, have authority to levy local use, sales, wage, personal property or other taxing mechanisms provided revenues are used to offset property taxes.
4. No statute adopted without report by Comptroller assessing cost of regulation on property taxes in local units. Give Comptroller additional authority needed to complete this assessment.
5. Change State Mandate Council legislation to give real authority.
6. Six Month Moratorium on local mandates except for public health and safety, and then only after local cost analysis. No "certified" purchasing agents.
7. Maintain State aid level or give a direct credit on income tax returns to residents whose town or school board are in sharing service or consolidation relationships. Sliding scale of a benefit based on increase in number of people served and savings realized.
8. Change collective bargaining and arbitration rules: arbitration awards total financial impact cannot exceed 4% annually.
1. All State agencies give priority review to development projects within municipal redevelopment areas. This will assist in proper development of distressed areas creating more ratables to help reduce property tax burden.
2. No regulation adopted without report by Comptroller assessing cost of regulation on local units.
3. Review Stormwater Management Rules for unjustified increase in property taxes. Towns that used to share street sweepers now cannot because of the extra rules. Towns have to adopt comprehensive plans addressing unlikely scenarios. Leave the fish medallions off the stormsewers.
A SAMPLING OF STATE REGULATION UNNECESSARILY INCREASING PROPERTY TAXES
FROM THE SCHOOL DISTRICT PERSPECTIVE
At the school level, we complete multiple reports with identical information several times each year. ASSA, Special Education, ELL report, Fall report, June 30 report, certificated staff report, etc. It's the same stuff asked by different sections of the Dept of Education in just a different enough manner so that we have to re-do the report each time.
The budget development process is ridiculous - Our District is up to 22 pieces of supporting documentation in addition to the actual budget, many of which do not get transmitted and no on looks at.
We do professional development plans, mentoring plans, long-term facilities plans, safety plans, crisis plans, Integrated Pest Management plans, Affirmative Action Plans, Test Security Plans, and there are at least 20 more that could be listed. Substantial administrative expense is spent on preparing the plans that no one reviews.
Fire drills - 2 per month. Now, we do evaluation drills once per month and lock down drills a few times each year. How about reducing fire drills to 1x month so that we can do some of the other drills without further reducing instructional time for which we are ultimately held accountable.
The DOE sends us memos en mass. No one has the time to read them all unless you hire someone to just read the DOE memos. Maybe they should limit themselves to 2 per week and be forced to prioritize. With the advent of email, it's free - so anyone in the Department who has a thought shares it with us, followed quickly by "please disregard that last email." No one can read all their missives.
The problem in Trenton is everyone has one job. The testing people worry about testing. The pest people worry about bugs. The safety people worry about a crisis. Special ed worries about special ed. The local districts have the same person handling many of these issues but it is difficult to keep up with the Sate administrative requirements without affecting administrative costs..
NOTHING I listed above has anything to do with teaching, curriculum, or improving student achievement.
FROM THE MUNICIPAL PERSPECTIVE
- Water Allocation Permit : went from approx. $4,500 in 2006to $15,000/year. This is a fee the State charges for towns that pump water from the aquifer.
- Public Water Tax: This is a tax the State charges on municipal water operations. Currently the tax is 1 cent per 1000 gals. But there is a proposed increase to 5 cents/1000 gal. This will be a substantial cost.
- Storm Water Permit : $3,000 - this ties to the new regulations that require fish medallions on all storm sewers.
- Compost Facility Permit – went from $1,000 to $3,000
- Annual Water Operation Invoice: $1,580
- BPU Assessment - $500
- BPU Rate Counsel Fee - $500 - these are just annual fees regardless of whether you have an application in or not.
- Registrars & Deputy Registrars must be certified now.($372.00/class) We've always had registrars but now they have State mandated classes to take.
- Marriage License & Civil Union Fee - Towns collect the fee, do all the processing of the license and State law sets the fee: $25.00 to State and town keeps $3.00
- Burial Permit Fee – increased from $1.00 to $15.00 - again the towns process all paperwork, collect the fee and State law sets the fee to be sent to the State
- Towns had to purchase new computer hardware to implement the State's new online death registration. We bought the new hardware and have now been advised the State will not be online in Camden County for some time. We could have waited.