April 13, 2017
League President Comments on Local Hopes for Next State Budget
Today, in Deptford, League of Municipalities’ President, Mayor Albert Kelly of the City of Bridgeton, spoke before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. Mayor Kelly urged the legislators responsible for spending decisions during the State’s next fiscal year, beginning on July 1, to “focus on ways that you can help local officials to better serve our property taxpayers.”
Mayor Kelly went on to list a number of specific matters where State action could help to contain property taxes, including:
- Restoration of $320 million ETR/CMPTRA funding, which the State has been using since the recession hit, to balance State spending;
- Protection for taxpayers in municipalities, where the Urban Enterprise Zone program was allowed to expire at the end of last year;
- Relief from a new mandate, requiring municipal public defenders to represent certain indigent defendants in County criminal courts; and
- An end to the diversion of the fees collected to modernize New Jersey’s 911 emergency response system, and the rededication of those resources to providing our citizens with the State of the Art emergency communications system that they were promised and that they have been paying for since 2004.
Mayor Kelly also urged the legislators to:
- Extend the interest arbitration cap (set to expire at the end of the year), which limits the awards that an independent arbitrator can impose on local taxpayers, when a town and a public safety employees’ union reach an impasse in contract negotiations; and
- Resist efforts to use future local government health benefit savings to fund State government pension obligations.
Finally, on the matter of school funding, Mayor Kelly told the committee, “We stand ready to assist that effort in any way that we can. … As you work to improve school funding, we only ask that you respect two principles: Fairness and Equity for our property taxpaying residents and businesses. You know that property taxes are unfair and inequitable. They are not based on the ability to pay and fall heaviest on those living on fixed incomes. They drive investment and economic development away from the Garden State. The solution to school funding must not make the property tax burden any heavier. We hope it can make it much lighter.”
Go to www.njslom.org/testimony/kelly-budget041317.pdf to read the full text of Mayor Kelly’s testimony.
Contact: Michael Cerra, Assistant Executive Director at 609-695-3481 ext. 120 or firstname.lastname@example.org