Policing Small Towns: New State Plan is Highway Robbery
Contact - Hon. Joe Venezia, Mayor of Estell Manor
Legislation was passed in 1921 to create a State Police Bureau to serve and provide policing service to small rural municipalities that could not afford to pay for their own police departments. Since that time, the New Jersey State Police has grown in both size and scope. For many years, it has been nationally known that the State Police are the most elite and best State Police in the nation. However, because the population in New Jersey has exploded since 1921, so has our State Police grown. No longer are they only serving rural areas. They have a Marine Police unit, Major Crimes unit, Division of Gambling Enforcement, Homeland Security unit, Community Policing unit, as well as their involvement with the election process and crime lab, just to name some of their detail units.
Unfortunately, the state is now trying to play hardball with the small rural communities, telling us that we will now pay approximately $330 per household. The state is looking to collect $20 million from 89 towns. There are six rural towns here in Atlantic County. While the state in general has exploded with growth, I know the six towns in Atlantic County have not. Five out of the six are very quiet towns. Estell Manor and Port Republic have the lowest crime rate in Atlantic County, and with Estell Manor being 53 square miles, we may be the lowest crime rated town in New Jersey. The State Police patrol where crime activity occurs. So what would my town be paying for in return for a low State Police presence? State Highway 50 runs through my town. The state asking us to pay them to patrol their own highway amounts to nothing less than highway robbery. Not to mention the state owns more than 54 percent of our city.
My city of Estell Manor is targeted as a Pinelands preservation district because of the vast amount of water our city has from the Cohansey Aquifer. As the state is considering putting a referendum question on the ballot this year to create a tax on water, perhaps Estell Manor should put a tax on the state for preserving our drinking water that much of New Jersey enjoys. After all, Trenton keeps talking about what it fair.
Speaking of being fair, will the shore communities pay for the Marine Police patrols? Will Camden, Newark, and other larger cities who have their own police departments pay for all of the State Police patrols in their cities? Will Jersey City pay for the Homeland Security units in their city? Will any town that utilizes the services of the State Police Crime Lab pay for evidence sent there for analysis?
What Trenton is doing to my town and the others is banditry and illegal. Is Trenton willing to break the law to squeeze us? Commit extortion? I proposed a solution last year to the Attorney General: Create a surcharge in all municipal courts for all guilty verdicts. That surcharge should be called a State Police Assessment Fee. Put this fee on those who create the need for police services, instead of those that do not. Trenton does keep all traffic fines. Local municipalities do not. We have been paying all along.
Trenton should also eliminate the nearly 1,000 political patronage jobs, in which those no-show employees receive in excess of $100,000 not including their benefit package. That would save more than $100 million dollars that could be shaved off this year's budget, plus the millions for surcharges from the courts.
If my last two sentences were inserted into the Goldman Sacs Financial accounting practices, perhaps Trenton would take notice.
E-Mail Retention – A Municipal Challenge
-Contact Dr. Morris Enyeart, League Web Advisory Service
In these days of ever-tightening municipal budgets, there is a tendency to overlook the e-mail retention requirements outlined by OPRA. While NJ Statutes do not specifically mention e-mail, it is clearly a government document as defined by OPRA and more municipalities need to have a defined process for retention of these public records. See the GRC Guidelines at www.njarchives.org/links/circular-letter-03-10-st.html.
Given competing needs for allocating municipal budget dollars among all of the services provided, it is not reasonable to assume that funds will be redirected from basic services provided by police, fire and public works to purchase and install a full-blown enterprise records management system to manage e-mail retention. In reality, there is no “one size fits all” solution for municipalities. However, some action to comply with the OPRA regulations and avoid litigation costs associated with non-compliance needs to be taken.
While having an in-house mail server may be a step in the right direction, it is more costly and may not be any better than having it on an outsourced, third party server. In many cases it may even be worse.
One of the most significant steps toward compliance would be for elected officials and other municipal staff to stop using private email accounts for municipal business. Additional steps such as periodically archiving emails into a centralized, searchable folder will also go a long way to minimizing the risk and cost. Although an E-Discovery System would be better, there are less expensive alternatives to purchasing an enterprise E-Discovery System.
A speaker’s panel discussed these and related issues during an educational session dedicated to electronic records retention at last year’s NJLM Annual Conference. You can view/download the presentations from that session at www.cityconnections.com/articles.html.
The League is working with the DCA and other organizations to help create additional educational sessions regarding e-mail use, retention and other topics.
A Special Announcement From:
NJLM EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION, INC. IN CONJUNCTION
WITH THE NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
PRESENTS A STATEWIDE CONFERENCE
“Understanding and Implementing the
New Jersey School Funding Formula”
Friday, September 19, 2008
9:00 am to 2:00 pm
Middlesex County Community College
2600 Woodbridge Avenue Edison
This day long event will provide an educational overview of the revised school funding formula to both educational and municipal leaders (Mayors, Superintendents, Business Administrators, School Board Leaders, Chief Financial Officers, etc.) to review key changes with regard to the funding formula and other related legislative budgetary initiatives including the tax levy cap law and the CORE property tax reform initiative.
In order to get the most out of this program, we suggest that the Mayor extend an invitation to your school superintendent and school board members. This program will feature presentations by Educational and Municipal school funding experts from The Department of Education and Department of Community Affairs who will offer you the necessary information you will need to understand the new laws affecting school funding and budgeting.
For more information, see the League School Funding Law Update page at http://www.njslom.org/school_funding_main.html