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June 6, 2008

I. A-500, Affordable Housing
II. A-2867, Permit Extension
III. A-1645, (Mandatory Appointment Of Qualified Purchasing Agent)





Dear Mayor:

I. A-500, Affordable Housing

Yesterday, the Assembly Appropriations Committee released A-500, which makes changes to the laws governing affordable housing. We would like to thank the Urban Mayors’ Association (which sent Irvington Mayor Wayne Smith’s Chief of Staff, Ms. Dawn Martinez, to testify), West Cape May Mayor Pamela Kaithern and Cranbury Township Administrator Christine Smeltzer for joining us in Trenton on this. Their strong support of our position was important and appreciated.

The bill can now be voted on by the full General Assembly as soon as Monday, June 16.    The Committee made significant amendments to the bill, but the provision which underline the League’s opposition appear to remain unchanged.   These amendments, however, came after a flurry of negotiations, so it would be unfair to provide any additional off-the-cuff commentary.    The amendments should be posted online on the Legislature’s website ( shortly.   We will provide a breakdown and analysis of the amendments in the upcoming days.

For more information, please see our letters of June 5, May 23 and May 6.   Since the bill is now positioned for a floor vote, we recommend contacting your Assembly representatives and expressing your concerns.  There may be a push for the Senate to consider this legislation before the summer recess, so it would also be prudent to advise your State Senator of your concerns as well.  If you have any questions please contact Mike Cerra at (609) 695-3481 ext. 120.

II.  A-2867, Permit Extension

Legislation that would extend for six years the life of building permits for commercial and residential development projects stalled by the possible lack of funding or revenues due to the current economic downturn was approved yesterday by the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee.  The “Permit Extension Act” would extend all permits and approvals granted to businesses by state and local governments, is strongly supported by the development community and opposed by environmentalists. 

The League did not take a position yesterday, instead we submitted a detailed letter outlining some concerns and offering commentary on the legislation.  Our letter to the Committee is online at:

A-2867 has now been referred to the Assembly Environment Committee, which could consider the bill at its next scheduled meeting on June 12.   If you have any questions please contact Mike Cerra at (609) 695-3481 ext. 120.

III.   A-1645 (Mandatory Appointment Of Qualified Purchasing Agent)

The bill which mandates governing bodies appoint a qualified purchasing agent was released yesterday from the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

In large part, the Appropriations Committee went on representation from the paid contract lobbyist for purchasing agents that this bill is not a mandate. Irrespective of testimony to the contrary from the League, Tim Gordon, Administrator in Millburn Twp. representing the Municipal Managers Association and over two hundred resolutions and letters from governing bodies, our opposition to A-1645, for the most part, fell on deaf ears. 

The ongoing concerns expressed on record by the Department of Community Affairs that this bill is an unworkable mandate in view of impending budget and staff reductions also did not resonate with the Committee.

The action yesterday is another poster child example of the Legislature continuing to foist unfunded mandates on local government at the same time of making draconian cuts in State aid.  It is very important that you voice your strong opposition by personally contacting your assembly and senate representatives.  A-1645 and its senate companion, S-770 are both in position for floor vote. These bills could land on the Governor’s desk by the end of the month.

Amendments to the bill provide a five year exemption for local units that demonstrate they have minimal purchasing activity. After this five year period, the local unit must re-apply or appoint a qualified purchasing agent. Additionally, any local unit with an annual operating budget less than $2.5 million is exempt from the provisions of the bill.

The Association of Environmental Authorities joined the League in opposing A-1645.  If you have any questions please contact Helen Yeldell at (609) 695-3481 ext. 112.

Thank you.


                                                                        Very truly yours,


                                                                        William G. Dressel, Jr.
                                          Executive Director



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