July 7, 2010
MAYORS TESTIFY ON NEED FOR COST
CONTROLS PRIOR TO NEW CAPS
With bi-partisan agreement reached on new property tax caps, four New Jersey Mayors joined League of Municipalities Executive Director Bill Dressel in Trenton, today, to urge the Assembly Budget Committee to focus on the immediate need to enact local government cost containment reforms.
East Windsor Mayor Janice Mironov, League Third Vice President, said, “The Governor was right when he said, ‘New caps without the toolkit are unworkable.’ Having reached agreement on unworkable new caps, the Trenton establishment needs to get serious about the struggle against oppressive, regressive property taxes. Local governments need to see action on the toolkit management reforms and on mandates relief initiatives BEFORE the Governor signs any new caps. Local governments need assurances that the Trenton establishment will end the diversion of vital municipal revenue replacement funding, such as the Energy Tax, which was never intended for State use. Property tax reform takes more than caps and cuts.”
Testimony by William G. Dressel Jr.
Cherry Hill Mayor Bernie Platt told the Committee, “Mayors throughout the state need real reforms to an antiquated property tax system that has not evolved in more than 200 years. We need significant management reforms that will give town halls throughout the state the flexibility to keep the cost of doing business lower and allow municipalities to preserve the health and public welfare of our residents. No elected official ever wants to raise taxes and imposing a cap without the proper vehicle to manage it will not build true property tax reform.”
“The "toolkit" to help towns control personnel costs must require arbitrators consider the 2% cap AND the cost of health care benefits,” said Collingswood Mayor Jim Maley, Chair of the League’s Economic Development Committee. “Because health care costs are outside the cap, they must be considered separate from the cap to allow towns to adequately control their costs.”
Elizabeth Mayor and League Past President Chris Bollwage told the Legislators, “We need real solutions to real cost drivers, whether they are inside or outside any arbitrary cap. On pensions and health benefits, if employees are required to contribute a reasonable percentage of the actual costs of the benefits, then our citizens will see real, sustainable relief.”
“Absent cost containment initiatives or an end to the diversion of municipal revenue replacement funding,” said Dressel, “these new caps will only shift the burden of deciding whether to slash vital municipal services or increase property taxes from local elected officials to the citizens who elected them.”
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For further information contact: William G. Dressel, Jr., Executive Director at (609)695-3481, extension 122 or 609-915-9072.