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September 17, 2008

Legislative Session Day Wrap-Up




Dear Mayor:

Assembly Committees were back in action on Monday in Trenton. Here is what happened to a few bills we need to watch.

A-2853, which we oppose, was released by the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee, despite the expert testimony of Gregory Fehrenbach, the League’s Interlocal Cooperation and Management Advisory Service Coordinator. The bill seeks to expand the current SHARE Grant limit on funding shared services capital projects from the lesser of 5% of the project or $40,000 (the current limit) to $200,000. The bill does not, however, increase the amount of money dedicated to the SHARE Grant program. Absent increased funding, a few successful applications for the new maximum $200,000 would rapidly deplete the fund, leaving other municipalities without any aid for investigations and implementations of shared services initiatives.

The Committee also released A-2552, which requires the annual preparation of detailed five-year financial plans, in accordance with regulations to be promulgated by DCA. It further requires annual meetings among the governing bodies of the municipality, the county and all constituent school and fire districts, to attempt to coordinate five-year spending plans. Finally, it would deny “State Aid” to any unit that failed to participate in any of these planned spending coordination meetings. We oppose the bill. Acknowledging the substance of our concerns, the sponsor has graciously agreed to meet with us in an effort to reach a mutually acceptable compromise, before the bill is posted for a vote in the General Assembly.

The Committee also amended and released A-557, which would give the municipality some flexibility on accepting a bid, even though the bidder inadvertently failed to include its business registration with the bid. We had asked the sponsor for amendments to the original version of the bill and we are reviewing the Committee’s amendments to see if they address our concerns

We support S-1675 released by the Assembly Commerce Committee that would allow UEZ municipalities to include certain homeland security expenses for closed circuit surveillance systems and other equipment as eligible for funding from the enterprise zone fund.  Another bill favorable to the League and released from the Assembly Telecommunications Committee is A-265 which requires certain public utilities to give written or verbal notice to the chief law enforcement officer serving the municipality within 12 hours after of discontinuance of gas, electric or water service to multi-family housing unit customers or any other residential customer for safety related purposes. Such notice is waived if the utility fully restores service prior to the expiration of the 12 hours.

Throughout this autumn, as always, we will do our best to keep you up-to-the-minute on important developments in our State’s Capital. For more information contact Jon Moran at (609) 695-3481 ext. 121.


                                                                        Very truly yours,


                                                                        William G. Dressel, Jr.
                                                                        Executive Director


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