Jersey Mayors Are Hoping to Receive More State Aid
New Jersey's mayors are crossing their fingers that they will see more money coming to their municipalities from the state in the future.
On Tuesday, Gov. Chris Christie is scheduled to deliver his fiscal year 2016 budget address in a special joint session of the New Jersey Legislature, and the mayors are hoping that the governor will deliver more aid to towns.
"We need our state aid," said Bridgeton Mayor Albert Kelly. "Flat funding is no funding for us. We've cut our public works department by two-thirds because we cannot sustain it on our local tax dollars."
In addition, they want energy tax revenues returned to towns and cities in an effort to help them stay beneath the 2 percent cap on property tax increases.
While attending the New Jersey State League of Municipalities 23rd Annual Mayors' Legislative Day on Feb. 4, many local officials called on the state to return the energy receipt tax revenue. Money collected from a tax on energy providers was initially intended to be returned to municipalities, but for years, governors from both political parties have been diverting the cash into the general fund to balance budgets.
"This money belongs to the municipalities of the state of New Jersey, clear and simple. Why are we not getting our energy receipts? Local aid is done if we would get our fair share," said Hope Mayor Tim McDonough.
In the past, Christie has said the energy receipts tax revenue does not belong to municipalities. The governor's fiscal year 2015 budget proposal included $1.5 billion in municipal aid, $1.2 billion in direct property tax relief and a record $12.9 billion in education funding, but the mayors said they still want the energy tax money.
"We need to have that aid back so that we can stay within that (property tax) cap as time goes on," explained Monmouth Beach Mayor Susan Howard. She said the governor and Legislature is solving their problems with money that belongs to municipalities.