TRENTON – Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable – appearing this morning before the Assembly Budget Committee – highlighted some of the accomplishments over the past year that he said have helped streamline government and improve accountability.
Among the accomplishments he listed are:
*Encouragement of residents’ approval to merge Princeton Borough and Princeton Township. Constable said the merger, which will save about $3 million annually, should prompt other “doughnut hole” municipalities to merge.
*Sharing of police and firefighting services, snow removal and other municipal services.
*Changing the Transitional Aid program to make towns that receive it more fiscally disciplined. There will be a $56.4 million decrease in aid for Fiscal year 2013.
*Providing heating assistance to approximately 260,000 residents.
*Continued providing of rental assistance to 4,100 residents.
Constable called for additional measures, “common sense principles,” to help municipalities control property taxes. They include giving towns the ability to opt out of civil service. Some one-third of towns are civil service.
He said while some $200 million will be diverted from the municipal affordable housing trust funds to the DCA, Constable pointed out that towns had “four years to commit the money,” and they will now lose control of those funds because they didn’t build subsidized housing.