Tuesday, March 22, 2016
LOCAL LEADER OFFERS PERSPECTIVE ON STATE BUDGET PROPOSAL
Today in Newark, State League of Municipalities’ President, Mayor Joseph Tempesta of West Caldwell, spoke before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. Affirming local officials’ commitment to the Governor’s core principles - the need for fiscal restraint and a willingness to pursue “hard reforms” to build a stronger economy and to make the State a better place to live – Mayor Tempesta said, “As always, the first concern of local officials has to be property tax relief funding.”
The proposed budget would provide almost every New Jersey municipality with the same amount of property tax relief funding that each has received since 2011. In the three years prior to that, however, the State had diverted a total of $331 million from dedicated municipal property tax relief sources, in order to bridge state revenue gaps.
To date, none of that funding has been restored to local budgets. Mayor Tempesta stated, “Once again, some local Energy Tax Receipts funding will be redirected to cover unspecified State priorities. … We urge you to begin to restore these funds, which the State needed to address a real crisis, back to local budgets, where they are meant to be.”
On the topic of pension and benefit reform, and on behalf of local officials and public servants all around the State, the Mayor reminded the legislators that “…municipalities and their employees have consistently contributed to the local PERS and PFRS funds. The real issue is with the State’s pension funds. And neither local funds, nor any real or projected local savings, should be used to address the State’s funding problems.”
The Mayor advised the Committee members that the League of Municipalities is working with others in an effort to develop “…a compromise solution establishing a stable Health Benefits and Pension Reform package.”
On the need for stable, sustainable and sufficient transportation funding, Mayor Tempesta stated, “On June 30, it isn’t a pot hole that awaits the New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund. It is the end of the road.”
According to State Department of Transportation (DOT) statistics, New Jersey's municipalities and counties are responsible for the maintenance of 88 percent of New Jersey’s roads; and local roadways and bridges carry about 55 percent of all traffic. Given that, and given the need for strong and steady investment in that infrastructure, Mayor Tempesta asked for assurances that Local Aid will represent, at a minimum, 25% of annual Transportation Capital spending.
* * * *
For further information contact: Michael Cerra., Assistant Executive Director at (609)695-3481, extension 120.