New Jersey took away energy tax receipt funding for municipalities over ten years ago to plug another budget hole, but now mayors from both parties want the money back.
A large group of mayors from across the state are in Trenton today to urge the restoration of the $321 million pot of money which were diverted in 2011.
“If we’re looking for property tax relief, this is a no brainer,” said Hope Mayor Timothy McDonough. “This is our money. It should be here, back in the municipalities. This is the time to do it. The state is flush with cash, so we don’t want to hear any budget concerns because the money is there.”
The Senate approved the measure in a 39-0 vote in March, but the bill remains stalled in the Assembly State and Local Government Committee despite a bipartisan stable of 31 sponsors. One of the sponsors is the committee chairman, Anthony Verrelli (D-Hopewell).
“Once upon a time they were collected directly by the municipal governments,” sad East Windsor Mayor Janice Mironov, who heads the New Jersey Conference of Mayor.” Over time, for an assortment of reasons, that function of collector was taken over by the state government, but it was done with the express promise that those monies would be returned to the municipal governments.”
McDonough called the decision to take the funds away from municipalities to fund state projects “typical of bad government.”
“When you take money that’s due to the residents of this state and you use it to plug holes in the in the fiscal problems at the state is hacked that’s not right it needs to go back to the residents of the town we you know we need to get we need to instill the confidence again between the state government state legislature and ourselves,” McDonough said.
Woodbine Mayor Bill Pikolycky, the League of Municipalities president,” also thinks the state can afford to restore the energy tax receipts.
“This is peanuts,” he said, comparing the cost to the full state budget.
But the mayors have a short window to get this done before the legislature completes the budget process and adjourns for the summer.
“In budget season, a week can seem like a month so this plan can still be done in in the week ahead,” said Michael Cerra, the executive director of the New Jersey League of Municipalities.