Giving municipal property taxpayers all the relief they have coming to them needs to be a part of “the new normal.”
When the Governor advanced his budget proposal for the state’s next Fiscal Year, he
announced that every municipality in New Jersey would be able to receive the same amount of general property tax relief funding next year, as they are getting in the current State
Budget. Your combined Energy Tax/CMPTRA distribution will be level. And if you qualify for Open Space Payments In Lieu Of Taxes, that too will mirror last year’s amount. That’s good. And we are relieved. But it is less than you are entitled to.
Last budget cycle, the state slashed over $271 million from 2009’s already diminished combination of Energy Tax and CMPTRA property tax relief funding. And 1/3 of the total—$3.35 million—was diverted from Open Space PILOTs.
During budget deliberations, we will urge the Legislature to use the Governor’s proposal as a baseline. If actual state revenue receipts exceed current anticipations, we will ask the Legislature to reduce its reliance on energy taxes, which are supposed to be used for property tax relief, and to increase the distribution, as required by the statutes.
The Governor’s proposal would also cut $10 million from the Transitional Aid Program, which is meant to help municipalities pull through extraordinary hardships. Further, it would have the state divert sales tax revenues collected in, and intended to be returned to, our state’s Urban Enterprise Zone municipalities. For the second consecutive year, the Treasurer wants to use these moneys to balance his budget.
This would cost local economic redevelopment efforts an estimated $92.6 million in FY 2012.
Never has such assistance been needed more. Now is not the time for such cuts. We intend to work with state Legislators, as they move towards adoption of the state’s Appropriations Act over the next three months.
Those will be our priorities for this year’s State Budget. But for the longer term, we need to end the state’s reliance on local revenues to balance its budget.
Editorial from New Jersey
Municipalities, Volume 88, Number 4, April 2011