March 8, 2011
LEAGUE PRESIDENT ADDRESSED STATE BUDGET CONCERNS
Today in Trenton, League of Municipalities’ President, Mayor Chuck Chiarello of Buena Vista Township, presented the municipal perspective on Governor Christie’s Budget proposal. Addressing the Assembly Budget Committee, the municipal leader noted, “Giving municipal property taxpayers all the relief they have coming to them needs to be a part of ‘the new normal.’”
Mayor Chiarello told the Committee, “The road, in years ahead, might be less bumpy, thanks to some of the management reforms that you advanced late last year. It needs to be smoothed even more. But it will take a while for our taxpayers to see the long-term benefits of those important initiatives.
“The task at hand for mayors and municipal governing bodies is crafting a 2011 budget that meets all the needs of our citizens, and creates a climate for economic recovery, within the 2% levy cap. That will demand consummate skill and considerable creativity. Both the level of property taxation and the quality of local services directly affect the economic vitality of our State. And State policy makers can help by recognizing the problems we all face. … Local budgets are subject to intense public scrutiny. Inflation alone often forces municipalities to spend more, just to maintain current service levels. But aside from inflation, local expenditures are driven by State and federal mandates, demographics, weather-related emergencies and a host of other factors beyond the control of local budget makers. No elected official ever wants to raise taxes. But the state sets tax policy for all New Jersey governments. And only state action can provide true local property-tax reform.”
Noting Governor Christie’s decision to deliver level municipal property tax relief funding, Mayor Chiarello said, “That’s a step in the right direction. And we are relieved. But I would be remiss in failing to note it is less than our property taxpayers should have coming to them. … During your budget deliberations this year, we urge you to use the Governor’s proposal as a baseline. If actual State revenue receipts exceed current anticipations, we ask the State to reduce its reliance on Energy taxes, which are supposed to be used for property tax relief, and to increase the distribution to municipalities, as required by the statutes. … We want to see a State commitment this year and we will work with the Administration and the Legislature on a phased plan to wean the State off of its dependence on Energy Receipt Tax (and CMPTRA) funds, and to rededicate the dollars to municipal property tax relief.”
The Mayor also called for timely action on pension and benefit reforms, level funding for the Transitional Aid program, and the distribution of Urban Enterprise Zone tax receipts to their rightful recipients.
A copy of the testimony can be accessed at http://www.njslom.org/testimony/030811-Chiarello-Budget-testimony.pdf
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For further information contact: William G. Dressel, Jr., Executive Director at (609)695-3481, extension 122 or 609-915-9072.