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September 19, 2008

Rural Policing Local Mandate Case Update




Dear Mayor:

We are sharing the following information with the full membership because this Local Mandates challenge is important to all municipalities.  If the “cost-sharing” plan for rural policing services in the current state budget is allowed to stand, it will set a precedent for other unfunded state-mandated municipal expenses in the future.

As you know, language in the State’s Appropriations Act requires 89 municipalities to decide, by December 15 of this year, whether they choose to establish a new police department, contract with another entity for police services or pay, into the State Treasury, an amount unilaterally determined by the State Treasurer. If they fail to notify the Treasurer of their choice by that date, or if the choice they make is rejected by the Attorney General, they will be treated as if they had chosen to pay the Treasurer’s assessment. If they fail to remit the amount arbitrarily set by the Treasurer, they will face the reduction or elimination of their 2009 revenue replacement and property tax relief funding.

While it might, at first glance appear that the issue impacts only on the Municipalities actually receiving State Police services, the fact is that this case will have a substantial impact on all municipalities, because if the State is able to drop services and impose costs, thereby, on the municipality receiving those services, then in future years that same unconstitutional tactic can be used on all municipalities or on any group of municipalities that rely on various state services.

On Wednesday, September 17, 2008, a case management conference was held concerning the Local Mandates case on rural policing services in the State House Annex in Trenton.  Judge Sylvia Pressler of the Council on Local Mandates announced that all municipalities filing in the case, whether as claimants or as amicus, would be considered claimants.  Only the League and Cumberland County would be participating in an amicus capacity.

Since there are no issues of material fact, the matter will proceed as cross motions for summary judgment.  These motions will be due on October 6.  Responses and other submissions, including amicus filing, will be due October 15.  The state’s response to the amicus filing will be due October 20.  The hearing before the Council will be October 22.

An order setting out the above procedure will be issued to all claimants within the next few days.  If you have any questions or concerns about this communication, please contact Deborah M. Kole, staff attorney, at the League, ex. 137, or at or Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext 121.


                                                                        Very truly yours,


                                                                        William G. Dressel, Jr.
                                                                        Executive Director


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