January 8, 2009
Re: Library Funding Changes and Resolution
Resolution 2008-03, passed at the League Conference this past November, calls for an amendment to N.J.S.A. 40:54-8 regarding tax levies for free public libraries. Specifically, the resolution calls for a reduction in the required payment for library funding from the current “1/3rd of a mil” to “1/6th” of a mil on every dollar of assessable property within such municipality based on the equalized valuation of such property.
We believe that, as local governments confront unprecedented fiscal challenges, a reform to the statute is both appropriate and necessary. We note that such a change would not prevent a municipality from providing more funding than it required, but merely lower the required payment for municipal libraries.
We are seeking legislative sponsors for this initiative. In the meanwhile, we are providing you a model resolution that you can pass, if you see fit.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.
Resolution Recommending Amendment to N.J.S.A. 40:54-8
Regarding Tax Levies for Free Public Libraries
WHEREAS, N.J.S.A. 40:54-8 requires the Governing Body of every municipality which is governed by the law concerning free public libraries to annually appropriate, and raise by taxation, an amount equal to one third of a mill on every dollar of assessable property within the municipality, based on the equalized valuation of such property; and
WHEREAS, this law was first enacted in 1944 and has only been amended once, that being in 1985; and
WHEREAS, the last amendment was over 23 years ago, and the initial law is now 64 years old; and
WHEREAS, the equalized value of property within New Jersey in 1944, as well as in 1985, was substantially less than the equalized value of property today, considering the rate of inflation and the boom in the real estate market in the mid-to-late 80’s and again in the early-to-mid 2000’s; and
WHEREAS, though the equalized values of real estate have increased many times over – perhaps as much as 50 times the equalized values in 1944, and as much as two or three-fold since 1985 --- the state law (40:54-8) has not changed the fractional obligation of each municipality to contribute toward its free public library; and
WHEREAS, the amount each municipality is required to contribute under the current statute far exceeds the reasonable needs and requirements of the free public libraries in the municipalities governed by this law.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the [fill in name of municipality] hereby urges the Legislature to revise the statutory requirements, in order to reduce the mandated financial obligation on the municipalities and their taxpayers under 40:54-8; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the [fill in name of municipality] urges that N.J.S.A. 40:54-8 be amended to read as follows:
“The governing body or appropriate board of every municipality governed by this article shall annually appropriate and raise by taxation an amount of not less than one-sixth of a mill on every dollar of assessable property within such municipality based on the equalized valuation of such property as certified by the Director of the Division of Taxation in the Department of the Treasury. Nothing herein shall prevent the municipality from appropriating a greater amount where the governing body, in its discretion, determines that such amount is appropriate,” and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this resolution be forwarded to the Senator (fill in name of State Senator), Assembly (fill in name of Assembly representatives), the New Jersey State League of Municipalities and the Governor of the State of New Jersey.