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FROM 222 WEST STATE STREET
Bill Dressel, League Executive Director

 

In Support of
The Common Good

Bill Dressel

If you’re like me, paying taxes is not high on your list of fun activities.

However, like most of us, I do enjoy driving on paved roads. I am happy knowing that emergency services are on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I am grateful that our children can learn and grow in effective, safe schools. And it’s great to know that there are secure, clean place where we can live, work, meet, shop, exercise, play and enjoy nature.

  No, I don’t like paying taxes. But I know that local property maintenance, building and animal control standards protect my family’s health and safety.

It’s important to me that I can participate in the process of planning the future of my hometown. And I appreciate the fact that my community can set reasonable limits on what activities others can conduct on their properties.

Citizens, respecting the need for public services, have accepted most tax laws with grudging compliance.

Any law is an appeal to reason. It asks citizens to restrain their wills and conform their actions to promote the common good. To accomplish its goal, a law needs to be clear, so that people can understand it. It needs to be practical, so that people can comply with it. It needs to be binding on the actions of the executive, so that its uniform enforcement is ensured. It needs to be reasonable, so that the people will respect it. And it needs to be enforceable.

The Energy Tax “poison pill” was meant to restrain the wills of future legislators and future executives, who might use their wills to gain an advantage, regarding the distribution of Energy Tax Receipts Property Tax Relief funding. We know that the state has, legally, avoided the “poison pill” by shifting funds from CMPTRA to the Energy Tax.

We realize that the Energy Tax and CMPTRA distribution laws are not self-executing. The state has the right to over-ride the statutory dedication of these revenues to local governments in its annual appropriations act. The state needs to have that right, in order to deal with emergencies and crises that may occur, and to balance its budget. However, the state should not exercise that right automatically. It should be the exception, rather than the rule.

Mayors all around the state have made the case. They have been heard. Bills have now been introduced.

We still harbor hopes that, this year the State of New Jersey will begin to restore to municipalities some of the property tax relief funding promised them by the laws of the State of New Jersey.

It’s simply in the people’s interest.

 

Editorial from New Jersey Municipalities, Volume 89, Number 6, June 2012

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