Grifa praises Christie, discusses snow budget caps, sharing services

Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Lori Grifa praised Gov. Chris Christie Wednesday for seeking reforms to make the state less costly through such tools as a property tax cap.

However, she stressed that other elements of the governor’s so-called tool kit must be implemented to see meaningful savings.

Pension reform, civil service reform and requiring employees to pay a share of their health care costs are critical took kit items, she said.

“We have to find a way to stabilize those numbers,” Grifa said during a League of Municipalities convention at the Statehouse in Trenton.

She also said the way retiring employees are reimbursed for unused sick and vacation days must be changed.

She said if she reads another story where someone got a “lottery ticket” of a payout for unused sick time, “I am going to scream. This is completely out of hand.”

The governor’s emphasis on towns sharing services also seems to be generating more interest from towns. “My phone is ringing more often now,” she said.

Her department is committed to working with the towns to find ways to become more efficient.

“We want to be a repository of information,” she said.

Grifa also praised Christie for cutting red tape and trying to make the state more business friendly.

Snow removal costs

With response to a question from Chesilhurst Mayor Michael Blunt on whether snow budgets will be exempted from the cap, she said guidelines will be published addressing that issue.

She added that the DCA no longer has money to fund studies on sharing services between towns. In the past the money was spent toward consultants, rather than more meaningful things.

She suggested business administrators and elected officials from the various towns find creative ways to save money, and determine for themselves if sharing services would be a good idea.

“I don’t have the money for it and I can’t pay for it,” she said about future studies.