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May 27, 2009

Re: League Mandates Update More Action More Info Needed

Dear Mayor:

Please join our effort for Unfunded Mandates Relief.

As you know, the League of Municipalities has been on record for years seeking the elimination of unnecessary mandates on local governments.  The current economic recession in New Jersey specifically and the national recession generally makes this call for relief even more poignant. 

Last year, the League provided State level policy makers and their staffs with a comprehensive study conducted by Township Manager Marianne Smith of Hardyston.  If the Legislature needed a basis for examining the impact of mandates on the property tax, this report supplied all that was needed.  However, there has been a request for more information. We had asked local officials to complete our mandates survey, just as the demands of preparing their own budgets, while attempting to deal with the current crisis, was paramount on their agendas. 

We realize that other priorities in this most difficult budget year have forced you to deal with serious pressing issues. But for our effort to secure mandates relief to move forward, we need you to help.

Here is what we need.

    Please let us know what mandates are hurting you most.
    Please let your Legislators know.
    If you don't tell them, they will not believe there's a problem.
    If you don't tell us, we have no ammunition.

This information will help Mayors John Bencivengo and Anthony Persichilli, Co-chairs of our Mandates Relief Committee, make a solid case for action. To date, through our survey we have been able to begin to quantify the effects of a few unfunded mandates.

Binding Interest Arbitration

One Bergen County municipality which wished to remain nameless has a fire department with a personnel cost of over $6,000,000.  The largest labor unit within the department has a cost of $5,750,000.  If a 3.5% increase were provided to the guide, a practice that has been common practice over the past 32 years, the total cost of the contract would have been 6.12% or over $350,000.  If on the other hand a total cost increase were provided to the union of 2.9%, the increase would be $166,750 or about $185,000 less. That 2.9% represents an estimate of the amount that a municipality can increase its budget, within the limits of the 4% property tax levy cap. For this unit of firefighters, those estimated excess costs equal $2,720 per employee.

Mandatory Training

Police Training Commission rules and N.J.S.A. 52:17B, et seq., for example, impose various training requirements for police officers. The 911 Commission, N.J.S.A. 52:17C, et seq., and N.J.A.C. 17.26 impose training costs for public safety dispatchers. Based on cost estimates we have received, the average cost per officer, per year, is about $4,600.

Last year, Hardyston Township, with 21 officers, identified costs of $81, 709, or about $3,891 per officer.

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

Storm Water Management

Based on the responses we’ve received to date, it is obvious that the cost of this mandate is not directly related to population. Average cost for a municipality is $38,625.

Last year, Hardyston (population 6,171) estimated Storm Water Management costs in excess of $100,000.

Lack of Due Diligence in Processing Applications

One Camden County municipality has identified NJDEP permit delays to have cost them $500,000 in potential added revenue for the municipal government.  With a population barely over 5,000, the impact of these delays is relatively enormous.  Small municipalities have greater difficulty in these situations as they do not have the sophisticated staff to do battle with NJDEP staff members.

These are only a handful of examples of the mandates problem afflicting local budgets. We need to be able to provide more, in order to gat State policy makers to respond.

For more information or if you have any questions on this, contact Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext. 121 or jmoran@njslom.com.

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

 

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