A story in today’s Times of Trenton
has a bunch of Mercer County mayor’s sweating the new 2% cap. It is funny to read the quotes as the mayor’s try and artfully dodge offending the governor while simultaneously crapping their pants worrying about next years budget after just slashing and burning this years budget. My initial thoughts reading this article are, why did mayor’s stand next to the governor and wave the cap flag without thinking it through? Are they that wrapped up in party politics? Are they lazy or dumb? Both?
Now the mayor’s and the League of Municipalities are shouting they need the “tool kit”. The tool kit is just as much a farce as the cap. Most of the tool kit is unconstitutional. The legislature seems to be in no hurry to discuss the tool kit, and many legislators have said they have serious problems with a lot of the “kit”.
There are many towns in NJ like Upper Freehold Township, Monmouth County. UFT has no police department, has about 6 paid fire fighters (whose salaries are well below state average, have never taken the town to arbitration, and have only had a contract for about 7 years), a handful of DPW employees, and your standard municipal building employees. UFT is not a civil service jurisdiction. UFT has slashed and burned their budget this year, including layoffs, furloughs, and service reductions.
My point is that UFT has not been subject to arbitration awards, they are not civil service, the council tends to be mostly republican, they provide very few services (no garbage collection, police), but have found themselves in the same boat as every other town and city in the state.
The “tool kit” is another sham by the governor. Another policy that will erode the quality of life and government in this state. I predict only a handful of the “tools” in the “tool kit” will become law. The legislature will be forced to add more exemptions to the cap law after disasterous consequences occur.
The governor needs to address the overpopulation of municipalites and taxing authorities in the state, this is where efficiencies will be located. The current policies do nothing to solve problems. The cap will force municipalities to go to an a la carte system of taxing, and will actually lead to more government in NJ as mayor’s try and ditch departments within their municipality and turn it into a taxing authority to avoid those numbers showing on their books. Christie is chopping off his nose to spite his face.