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June 17, 2008

I. A-2731, Permits Greater Local Traffic Regulation)
II.  Permit Extension, A-2867/S-1919
III. Surcharge for Private Collection of Property Taxes
IV.  Hotel Liquor License Bill






Dear Mayor:

I.       A-2731 (Permits Greater Local Traffic Regulation)
We strongly support A-2731, which would permit municipalities and counties to make certain traffic engineering decisions without DOT approval. The bill is designed to expedite the timely posting of appropriate traffic safety signs and signals.

This is a major issue in need of legislative attention and we salute the sponsor, Assemblyman John Wisniewski, for his leadership on this. Local officials from all around the State have expressed their frustration with waiting for bureaucratic approval of signs and signals that local officials see as essential to protecting lives and preventing accidents. They have often felt compelled to post traffic signs prior to DOT approval, in order to maximize the public’s safety in and around dangerous intersections. And we welcome legislation that would allow local officials to post such signage when and where it is deemed appropriate.

In Committee last Thursday, June 12, Assemblyman Wisniewski and DOT Commissioner Kolluri graciously agreed to an amendment, which addressed our one concern. That related to a provision that called for consultation and concurrence with a neighboring jurisdiction if the local regulation would cause "an undue traffic burden or impact on roadways" in the neighboring jurisdiction. It is our feeling that the term "undue burden or impact" needed to be removed from the bill, since it was undefined and open to divergent interpretation. We recognize the need to account for possible negative impacts in neighboring jurisdictions. Accordingly, our amendment includes a requirement to provide prior notice to the adjoining municipality or the county when considering an action where there would be any anticipated impact on the other jurisdiction.

Again, we commend the sponsor for his work on this issue. And we welcome the opportunity to help to advance this important legislation.

  1. Permit Extension, A-2867 & S-1919

Legislation promoted by the development community and generally opposed by environmentalists, was scheduled but held by the Senate Economic Growth Committee.   The Committee rescheduled consideration of the bill for this Thursday, June 19.

The bill was amended by the Assembly Environment Committee last week.     The amended bill is online at:

The Committee statement, summarizing the amendments, is online at:

For more on this bill, please see our Dear Mayor letter of June 16.

III.    Private Collection of Property Taxes - A-2178
The General Assembly released A-2178 which permits municipalities and other government units to place a surcharge of 25% on outstanding fines, costs and other charges owed by delinquent debtors. This surcharge would be strictly dedicated to off-set the cost of hiring a private debt collector.

Recent amendments expand the list of items to be collected by the private collection firm.   In addition to outstanding fines, costs, surcharges and other penalties, the private collection firm is allowed to collect delinquent taxes, fees or assessments.

The League is adamantly opposed to the inclusion of property taxes in this legislation. Provisions of the current tax sale law are sufficient for the collection of property taxes. Moreover, the majority of municipalities have a 95% or greater tax collection rate. Most municipalities sell all of their tax liens to outside buyers as this practice provides a positive cash flow to the municipality.

A-2178 joins its companion, S-986 at second reading in the Senate.  For more on this bill, please see our Dear Mayor letter of May 12.

IV.    Hotel Liquor License Bill, A-2896
Yesterday, the General Assembly approved A-2896, which will deny a municipality reasonable compensation for a hotel liquor license.

A-2896 would prohibit a municipality from establishing a minimum bid for issuance of a hotel liquor license in certain cases.

The bill now moves to the Senate Law and Public Safety and Veterans' Affairs Committee for consideration. 

For more on this bill, please see our Dear Mayor letter of June 13.


                                                                        Very truly yours,


                                                                        William G. Dressel, Jr.
                                          Executive Director



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