The New Jersey State League of Municipalities held its 18th Annual Mayors’ Legislative Day on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at the Statehouse. The program was attended by over 200 Mayors and local officials from around the state.
Governor Chris Christie addressed the audience and was met with resounding applause when he announced the need for interest arbitration reform as a means to curb the escalating benefit packages and control property taxes.
Bill Dressel, Executive Director, stated “Police and Fire salary and wages generally account for the largest portion of the municipal taxes. Municipalities are bound by strict fiscal controls embodied in the expenditure limit and tax levy caps and it has been the norm rather than the exception for state approved arbitrators to award raises for police salaries at rates that exceed the annual caps which leads to higher property taxes.”
Governor Christie cautioned local officials of the upcoming budget challenges that lay ahead advising them that during these challenging economic times that they must be leaders for their community and take the “leap” to move forward. The Governor also addressed COAH reform and the willingness to work cooperatively with the League, the Legislature and champion the issue in the courts.
Prior to the Governor, Acting DEP Commissioner Bob Martin and Acting DCA Commissioner Lori Grifa outlined their goals for their respective departments and their partnership with local officials.
Later in day, NJN State House correspondent Zach Fink led a panel discussion on pension reforms, COAH, and municipal property tax relief. The panelist included Assembly Speaker Shelia Oliver, Assemblyman Louis Greenwald, Assemblyman Alex DeCroce, Senator Kevin O’Toole, Senator Paul Sarlo, Senator Thomas Kean, Jr., Eatontown Mayor Gerald Tarantolo, Bridgewater Mayor Patricia Flannery and Somerdale Mayor Gary Passanante.