February 3, 2009
New Jersey League of Municipalities Looks to Congress for Local Aid
In response to a December, 2008 request from the League, local governments all around New Jersey completed a survey specifying local infrastructure programs that could begin, with the requisite funding, by the end of June. At this point, over 160 municipalities have listed locally needed projects, the cost of which would total over $1 Billion.
On January, 7, the League forwarded the lists to Senators Lautenberg and Menendez and to the rest of our entire Congressional Delegation, asking them to do all that they can to secure direct funding for these investments. We quickly heard back from Senators Menendez and Lautenberg, who have thanked us for the information and pledged to fight on our behalf.
We now know that the Federal stimulus bill WILL NOT include earmarks. Accordingly, there will be no assurances of funding for specific local projects coming from Washington. Instead, the bulk of the infrastructure funding money will go to the state. Members of Governor Corzine’s cabinet and staff are aware of our survey and have been monitoring the responses. They will, therefore, be aware of local needs when funding arrives in Trenton.
We appreciate all who have responded to our request for information. The project lists that they have provided (http://www.njslom.org/stimulus-package.pdf) are available on our website.
We especially want to thank Assemblyman David Russo of the 40th Legislative District for his support. After reading about our survey, Assemblyman Russo consulted the projects list on our website and wrote personal letters to Senators Lautenberg and Menendez and to Congressman Garrett, highlighting the needs of municipalities in his district. We urge all State Legislators to do the same. And we urge them to let the Governor know the importance of funding local projects, once the final stimulus bill is enacted.
In his annual State of the State address to a joint session of the legislature in January, Governor Corzine suggested we should be prepared for further State spending reductions. Municipal property tax relief funding could again face significant cuts. Those cuts will likely come whether or not the Governor’s pension payment deferral proposal passes.
Accordingly, it appears that the only form of ‘property tax relief’ that we can hope for from Trenton, this year, is the ‘pension payment deferral’ proposal, embodied in S-7.
We agree on the need for mutual respect and cooperation in the face of the current crisis and stand ready to work with the administration and the legislature, on a bi-partisan basis. We are grateful for the bi-partisan support that has already been given to our member municipalities on this effort.
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For further information contact: William G. Dressel, Jr., Executive Director at (609)695-3481, extension 122 or 609-915-9072.