Senate lawmakers want to limit municipality ‘user fees’

TRENTON – State senators on both sides of the aisle announced Monday their plans to introduce legislation to prevent municipalities from making “end runs” around the state’s 2 percent property tax cap.

Senate President Steve Sweeney, (D-3), West Deptford, and Sen. Anthony Bucco, (R-25), Boonton, both said they will introduce bills that would prevent towns from using certain “user fees” to side step the state’s tax cap. The lawmakers say such fees are aimed at circumventing the state’s property tax cap.

Sweeney’s bill would continue to count services shifted from a property tax base to a user fee as part of the current cap.

Bucco’s legislation would prevent municipalities from imposing fees for emergency calls, according to the lawmakers’ offices.

“A ‘user fee’ for a municipally provided service is just another way of saying ‘tax,’” Sweeney said in a statement. “And these attempts to get around the property tax cap are disingenuous and detrimental to homeowners.”

Bucco’s office said the legislation comes in response to a NJ 101.5 FM report that several towns are mulling charging fees for emergency responses, such as a fire department’s response to a building fire, according to the station.

“Residents already pay fees for emergency services, they’re called property taxes,” he said in a news release. “If the highest property taxes in America aren’t enough to support basic public safety and emergency services, then there is something severely wrong with our spending priorities as a state.”


Senate lawmakers want to limit municipality ‘user fees’