May 21, 2009
MAYORS BENCIVENGO AND PERSICHILLI TO LEAD LEAGUE DRIVE TO LOWER PROPERTY TAXES THROUGH MANDATES RELIEF
New Jersey League of Municipalities’ President, Mayor Tim McDonough of Hope Township, has tabbed Mayor John Bencivengo of Mercer County’s Hamilton Township and Pennington Borough Mayor Anthony Persichilli to Co-chair the League’s new Mandates Relief Committee.
Mayor McDonough praised his colleagues’ “... interest in gaining substantial and sustainable property tax relief for the people of New Jersey by convincing state government to relax or eliminate some of the many spending requirements that are imposed on municipalities by state laws and regulations.”
With the loss of close to $200 million in shared State revenues over the last two years, municipalities all around New Jersey are struggling to contain property taxes, while continuing to deliver quality local programs and services.
Unfunded state mandates drive up local government costs and force local budget-makers to address a laundry list of state priorities before, and often to the detriment of, local needs for vital municipal programs and services. These mandates include state required training for local officials and employees, state required reporting and permitting and state required services and programs. These mandates have built up, over the years, with no attention paid, at the State level, to their cumulative impact on local budgets.
In testimony presented to the Legislature’s budget committees earlier this year, Mayor McDonough had 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; an expedited process for evaluation of local permit applications, as delays increase costs; a relaxation of certain local training and certification requirements; 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; and 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.
"Repealing unfunded state mandates will act as a means to achieving relief for taxpayers all across our state," said Mayor John F. Bencivengo. "I am honored to have been chosen to serve as Co-chair of this committee and look forward to working on substantive reforms that will benefit the people of Hamilton Township and all New Jersey taxpayers."
“We understand, better than most, the State’s current revenue problems,” said Mayor Anthony Persichilli. “In this economy, at this time, the State doesn’t have to spend a penny to give our taxpayers real relief. All that is needed is a relaxation of some of the many mandates that past legislatures and that past administrations have laid on local government. I look forward to working with Mayor Bencivengo on this effort. It will benefit all of our colleagues. But, more importantly, it will benefit property taxpayers all around our Garden State.”
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For further information contact: William G. Dressel, Jr., Executive Director at (609)695-3481, extension 122 or 609-915-9072.