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June 16, 2008

Two Issues
Permit Extension Act, A-2867 & S-1919

Pension Reform





Dear Mayor:

Permit Extension Act, A-2867 & S-1919

Yesterday, the Assembly Environment Committee amended A-2867, the “Permit Extension Act.”  These amendments will be available online at:

It is our understanding that the bill was amended so that the “tolling” would be retroactive to January 1, 2008, instead of the January 1, 2006 date originally in the bill.      

The tolling will now extend permits for two years, as opposed to six years, as in the bill as introduced. If the bill is signed by the Governor shortly, it will toll permits until July 2010. For instance, if there is 6 months remaining on a permit, this would freeze that for two years and at the end of that two year period, the permit will have 6 months remaining.

Also, areas designated for growth in the Pinelands and the Highlands Planning area are also exempt from the Act.

The League submitted a statement, highlighting concerns with the legislation, which is identical to the letter we submitted to the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee last week.

As you can tell, these amendments address some of the concerns raised by the League.  We are now reviewing the amendments to A-2867.  The bill is now at 2nd reading in the Assembly and can be voted on by the full General Assembly. 

The Senate companion, S-1919, is scheduled for a hearing by the Senate Economic Growth Committee. 

Pension Reform

The Senate State Government Committee took another step toward pension reform by releasing a set of  bills that apply prospectively to new members coming into PERS and TPAF. The bills do not change any benefits or provisions provided to current members of the pension system.

The League addressed three critical points in testimony before the Committee yesterday.

1.         We continue to refute the State’s assumption that all pension systems are equal. Local PERS is not in trouble and mayors are to be commended for making their timely payments to PERS.

2.         PFRS is the most expensive local pension system and corrections are needed to control costs.  However, the committee chose not to respond to our comments on this system.

Mayors use part time help judiciously.  Part-time positions for local government is a cost effective method of providing services.  It should be recognized by the systems that individuals serving two small towns by working twenty hours per week in each town constitutes a full time job.

The League, when correcting errors in the Murphy report in 2006, was well ahead of the curve with its COPE report. Apparently, the Legislature seemed to have come to the realization that many of our points were correct. We only wish they would adopt our full report. On principle, the League conceptually supported the bills during testimony and indicated willingness to work with legislators on stand alone bills to address issues raised during testimony.

Below is a brief listing of the bi-partisan sponsored pension reform bills to which League testified:
S-1962 – Restricts TPAF and PERS membership and credit to full time work with a certain number of hours per week and makes certain part-time persons eligible for Defined Contribution Retirement Program.

S-1964 –changes prospectively definition of compensation used to calculate benefits in PERS and TPAF to average of five highest paid years.

S-1965 –Requires new employees, appointees and elected officials work 35 or more hours per week to be eligible for SHBP benefits.

S-1969 – Requires member of PERS or TPAF who holds concurrently more than one PERS covered public position to designate one position as basis of membership.

Thank you.



                                                                        Very truly yours,


                                                                        William G. Dressel, Jr.
                                          Executive Director



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