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March 24, 2009

Re:       League Budget Testimony

Dear Mayor:

Today in Montclair, League of Municipalities President, Mayor Tim McDonough of Hope Township, testified before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, meeting at Montclair State University. At the same time, League Board Member, Mayor Gary Passanante of Somerdale, spoke before the Assembly Budget Committee in Trenton.

Next year’s budget, as proposed by the Governor, would shave an aggregate of $31.2 million from this year’s diminished municipal revenue replacement funding. Though never welcome, cuts of municipal property tax relief funding are no longer surprising – certainly not at this time. However, they, inevitably, put upward pressure on property taxes. This year, the League will again ask the Legislature to recognize that fact and to give municipalities the tools they will need to relieve that upward pressure. Local budget balancers hope the State will be able to find the means to help on the revenue side. They also hope that the State will give them tools that can be used to address the pressures that unfunded mandates put on the expenditure side.

“It won’t cost the State a penny,” said Mayor McDonough, “to relax or eliminate some of the many mandates that have been imposed, legislatively and administratively, over the course of decades. These mandates drive up the costs of local government and force local budget makers to address a laundry list of State priorities, before they can even begin to plan on how best to meet the local need for vital municipal programs and services.”

The Mayors asked the Legislature to consider:

  • A dramatic reform of the State’s binding arbitration law, which forces local officials to submit police and fire contract disputes to the decision of an independent arbitrator.
  • And expedited process for evaluation of local permit applications, as delays increase costs.
  • A relaxation of certain local training and certification requirements. In these trying fiscal times, it would be appropriate to allow local policy makers to determine who needs to be trained in what area, how often and in what manner.
  • A moratorium on State enforcement of various land use and environmental regulations, until such time as the State can meet its statutory responsibility to fully fund the Consolidated Municipal Property Tax Relief Fund and the Energy Tax Receipts Property Tax Relief Program.
  • A relaxation of the inordinate steps and time limits with which municipalities must comply to institute layoffs. If this is the last means of compliance with the tax levy cap and loss of revenues, the State should permit more expeditious actions to effect layoffs.

Click here for a copy of the testimony .

New Jersey State Spending Mandates on Local Governments

Very truly yours,

 

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

      

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