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January 25, 2008

                                                                                               
Re:  1.  Municipal Library Over-Funding       
Relief Bill Advances                               
2.  A-1645 - Qualified Purchasing Agent

Dear Mayor:

1.    Municipal Library Over-Funding Relief Bill Advances

The Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee yesterday released A-1265, which would provide a mechanism that would allow a municipal public library to return excessive funding to the municipality, for property tax relief. Though by no means a cure-all, the bill, sponsored by Assemblyman-Mayor Paul Moriarty, can help some municipalities caught between the municipal library funding mandate and the new artificial and arbitrary 4% levy cap.

The local library funding law requires a municipality with a local public library to annually dedicate a sum equal to $0.33 (thirty three cents) per $1,000.00 of the total assessed value of all local properties to the municipal library. In many cases, the local public library can adequately fund services at a lesser amount. It is good public policy to, therefore, allow for exceptions to the general rule in order to allow the local governing body to limit property taxes.

At our most recent Annual Conference, the League membership endorsed a resolution that, in part, called for the creation of a special committee to work with the legislature on this issue. That committee, Chaired by Lambertville Mayor Dave DelVecchio, is grateful to the sponsor for his attention to this matter and for his willingness to work with all interested parties to perfect the legislation.

A-1265 now awaits scheduling for a floor vote in the Assembly. A companion measure will soon be introduced in the State Senate by Senator Jeff VanDrew.

For more information, contact Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext. 121.

2.    A-1645 – Qualified Purchasing Agent

Legislation that would redefine the role and qualifications of purchasing agents and require municipalities to establish an office of Qualified Purchasing Agent was released from the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee.

Yesterday, the League testified in opposition to the mandatory requirements of the bill and urged the Committee to consider the impact on towns as they grapple with economic stresses and the constraints of Cap limitations. Presently, some municipalities voluntarily appoint a Qualified Purchasing Agent.  We strongly believe this flexibility should be maintained.

Although amended to provide a 5 year exemption for towns with limited procurement needs, ultimately, towns must appoint a Qualified Purchasing Agent. The bill was also amended to allow the position to be filled through an interlocal agreement. We recognized these attempts to make the bill more palatable, but the fact remains, the bill still imposes a number of mandates on municipalities.

While we certainly support professionalism in all aspects of municipal operations, this legislation does not in any way change the procurement process nor does it provide any new or additional capabilities to assist towns in improving purchasing functions. Continuing education and frequent training seminars to keep abreast of various statutes that impact purchasing functions provide ample tools to encourage proper cost effective purchasing.

In an unprecedented move yesterday, the Department of Community Affairs, as the regulatory agency charged with implementing the proposed law, testified in opposition to the bill.

The bill, A-1645, was released from Committee with the sponsors’ (McKeon) commitment to convene all stakeholders in meetings with DCA.

The Senate companion, S-770, was held, without testimony, by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee during yesterday’s meetings.

Questions can be directed to Helen Yeldell at (609) 695-3481 ext. 112 or hyeldell@njslom.com .

For a copy of the bills, contact Donna Baltz at ext. 127 or dbaltz@njslom.com.

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

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