As we enter a New Year in New Jersey, for all of our mayors and municipalities, the League’s top priority for 2013 is the Restoration to Municipalities of Funding Diverted by the State from Energy Taxes intended for local use and property tax relief. Taxes on gas and electric utilities were originally collected by the host municipalities. When the state made itself the collection agent for these taxes, it promised to return to towns all proceeds for municipal property tax relief.
For many years, however, state officials of both political parties have diverted funding from Energy Taxes to fund state programs. Thus, instead of being spent on local programs and services and used to offset local property taxes, the money has been spent as successive Legislatures and Administrations have seen fit.
The cumulative impact of years of underfunding has left many municipalities with serious needs and burdensome property taxes. Local elected officials are in the best position to decide the best use for these resources. Further, these monies were always intended to fund local programs and services and reduce property taxes.
On December 6, 2012, Assembly Bill A-2753 was released by the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee with unanimous bipartisan support from the Committee Members. We thank the bill sponsors Assemblymen Daniel Benson and Wayne DeAngelo, as well as the sponsor of the Senate companion Senator Linda Greenstein, for their leadership and efforts on this important municipal and property taxpayer issue.
The bill would require certain energy tax receipts to be paid directly to municipalities. This legislation would assure local property taxpayers compensation for hosting transmission facilities and lines that allow gas and electric energy corporations to serve customers and conduct business in our State. Under current law, energy tax receipts are all collected by the state. However, over many years now, through the annual appropriations act, the state has retained large portions of the energy tax receipts to fund state programs, monies that are supposed to be distributed to municipalities under statutory law.
On behalf of Mayors all around the state, we thank the sponsors and strongly support Assembly Bill A-2753. We urge all Legislators to support this measure and to restore this funding to its intended purpose.
Let the Governor and NJ Legislators make as a 2013 Resolution to do the right and just thing and Restore Energy Receipts to the Municipalities for whom the money was collected and to whom it belongs. Happy 2013!