Local governments reduced to begging

The state budget was passed June 23, more than four weeks ago. But today, July 24, hundreds of towns are still waiting for a decision on extraordinary aid applications. Final budgets cannot be adopted and tax bills issued without these awards. The result is many towns are forced to issue estimated tax bills or float Tax Anticipation Notes (short term debt). Both alternatives are costly to taxpayers and unnecessary if the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) would do their job in a timely manner.

Yet it hasn’t. Why? Because government bureaucrats and political hacks are still wrestling over backroom deals, deciding which communities “qualify” for these “aid” awards.

With no public hearings or guidelines for how this money is divided, the system is purely political. In a desperate move, in the midst of this process, State Treasurer Bradley Abelow sent a letter to every governing body in the state advising them: “We urge you to carefully consider how far you want to go in putting yourself and your community on record on this critical issue before we have a concrete proposal from the Governor to debate” – before acting on a letter from Republican Minority Leader Alex DeCroce requesting resolutions opposing the Governor’s “Asset Monetization” scheme.

Poor timing, considering the status of aid applications. In a purely political arena this maneuver has all the trappings of political strong arm tactics.

Last week Governor Corzine was able to find $6.4 Million of our taxpayer dollars to show HIS appreciation for Cooper Hospital’s treatment after HIS accident. I say if Governor Corzine wants to be generous he should use his own money, not yours and mine.

That $6.4 Million, by the way, is equivalent to almost the entire operating budget of more than one hundred of the states’ municipalities. Governor Corzine promised to change the way the state did business under the McGreevey-Codey Administration. He has. He’s made a bad situation even worse.

Steve Lonegan is the Mayor of Bogota, NJ, and Executive Director of Americans for Prosperity – New Jersey. Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFP Foundation) are committed to educating citizens about economic policy and mobilizing those citizens as advocates in the public policy process. He is a prolific writer, having been published in newspapers and blogs. He currently has a book in pre-publication on the impact of New Jersey state government on the well being of the taxpayers of the state, where he offers solid and workable solutions.

Local governments reduced to begging