March 12, 2014
New Jersey Mayors Gather to Exchange Ideas with State Leaders
Today in Trenton, 175 Mayors and other local elected officials gathered in Trenton for the League of Municipalities’ 22nd Annual Mayors’ Legislative Day program. Hosted by League President and Stone Harbor Mayor Suzanne M. Walters, the program opened with presentations by Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable, Board of Public Utilities President Dianne Solomon and Chief Advisor to the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection Ray Cantor.
Of particular importance to local officials, Commissioner Constable promised level municipal property tax relief funding, lower municipal employees’ pension bills and another year of property tax increases below 2 percent. The Commissioner again urged local officials to contact their state legislators on the need to make the 2 percent limitation on arbitration awards permanent. President Solomon spoke to Mayors on the need to educate consumers on the potential benefits and dangers of third-party energy supply contracts, the need to educate themselves on the potential benefits and dangers of municipal energy aggregation and on the new Energy Resiliency bank for local government building improvements. And Mr. Cantor detailed a number of DEP’s Sandy recovery programs and on the Department’s ongoing commitment to work with local government to streamline, expedite and lessen the costs involved in meeting permitting requirements. After these Executive Branch officers fielded a number of questions from the attendees, Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno gave a lively speech on Administrative efforts to promote economic development and asked Mayors to let her know what New Jersey can do to help specific local businesses – large and small – continue to prosper and expand employment opportunities.
Next, veteran NJ 101.5 State House News Correspondent Kevin McArdle moderated a panel discussion on major state policy matters. The panel included Mayor Walters, Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce, Camden Mayor Dana Redd, East Windsor Mayor and Immediate Past President Janice Mironov, Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert, Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, Senator Sam Thompson and Hope Mayor and League Past President Tim McDonough. In response to Mr. McArdle’s first question, both Senate President Sweeney and Speaker Prieto assured the Mayors that they intended to act on an extension to the soon-to-be expiring 2 percent cap on the increased costs of police and fire contract arbitration awards. This was followed by a discussion of the uncertainty municipalities face as a result of State inaction on affordable housing rules and requirements. All of the panel participants recognized the need for clarity, and specific reforms were advanced and discussed. After a far-ranging discussion of municipal shared services and the prospects for consolidations, Mr. McArdle invited questions from attendees.
The program concluded with the League’s 16th Annual Local Elected Officials Hall of Fame ceremony, recognizing the public service of individuals who have dedicated twenty or more years of their lives as mayors and/or local governing body members. The Honorees were Fairview Borough Mayor Vincent Bellucci, Jr.; Wrightstown Council President Mike Borsavage; Secaucus Councilman Emeritus John Bueckner; Mannville Mayor Angelo Corradino; Pine Beach Mayor Lawrence Cunco; Sea Isle City Mayor Leonard Desiderio; South Brunswick Mayor Frank Gambatese; North Wildwood Mayor Emeritus William Henfey; Burlington Township Councilman George Kozub; Netcong Councilwoman Emeritus Cecilia Laureys; Wrightstown Council Member Laurance Lownds; Sandyston Mayor Fred MacDonald; Wanaque Mayor Daniel Mahler; Winslow Mayor Emeritus Dominic Maiese; Glen Gardner Councilwoman Carol Morton; Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Emeritus Jack Pasola; Lebanon Township Committeewoman Patricia Schriver; Allentown Council President Michael Schumacher; Lawnside Councilman Clifford Still, Sr.; West Caldwell Mayor and League 2nd Vice President Joseph Tempesta, Jr.; Glen Gardner Councilman Steven P. Yaros; Jefferson Township Council President Richard Yocum and Southampton Mayor James Young, Sr.
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For further information contact: William G. Dressel, Jr., Executive Director at (609) 695-3481, extension 122 or 609-915-9072.