April 19, 2010
Mayor Chuck Chiarello of Buena Vista, League of Municipalities’ First Vice President, Voices Municipal Reaction to Governor’s Proposed Budget
League of Municipalities First Vice President, Mayor Chuck Chiarello of Buena Vista, presented the municipal perspective on Governor Christie’s proposed budget, today, when he testified before the Assembly Budget Committee in Trenton.
Mayor Chiarello advised the Committee that the proposed 20% cut in municipal property tax relief funding will present a serious challenge to local budget makers, struggling to provide essential municipal services effectively and efficiently.
“Municipal officials expected deep cuts. But we did not anticipate the severity of the Energy Tax cuts. While this proposal meets the letter of the law, it clearly violates the spirit of property tax relief in the Energy Tax statute … Local officials (are) struggling to do the best for their citizens in an incredibly difficult year. … We are braced to do our part, recognizing that our property taxpayers need to be insulated, as much as possible, from the impact of those sacrifices.”
He cautioned the Committee on the need to advance mandates relief, as they proceed with budget deliberations.
“Accordingly, we anxiously anticipate the report and recommendations of the Lieutenant Governor’s Red Tape Review Group. And, while we have serious concerns about the practical implications of the Governor’s proposed 2.5% cap, we are gratified that the Administration intends to provide local officials with meaningful tools to limit the otherwise devastating impact of the cuts. Binding Arbitration reforms, which require arbitrators to recognize local caps and the impact of those awards on property taxes, and Civil Service reforms, that allow local governments to opt out of the system, have long been sought by the League. Combined with the recent pension and benefit reforms, they can represent real progress.”
Mayor Chiarello concluded his testimony with a plea for the Committee to consider the big economic picture, as they contemplate property tax relief funding cuts. “When property tax relief funding is cut, and municipalities and school districts have less to spend, it has an effect in the local economy that has an effect on the State’s economic health. … If we are forced to defer capital projects, construction workers aren’t as busy as they could be. And those that supply materials aren’t selling as much as they could.
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For further information contact: William G. Dressel, Jr., Executive Director at (609)695-3481, extension 122 or 609-915-9072.