Bollwage urges veto of arbitration bill

Democratic Elizabeth Mayor Christian Bollwage is pushing the governor to veto the arbitration reform bill set to be voted on by the assembly Monday.

The Democrats’ attempt at reform does not go far enough, Bollwage said.

“The problem with (the arbitration bill) is it does not go far enough to protect municipalities,” Bollwage said in a release. “Instead of asking an arbitrator to consider the cap, they should be required to cap the full economic impact of the award to the same 2% limit.”

Bollwage, a frequent critic of the governor, nevertheless finds himself on Christie’s team as the legislature contemplates tax reform.

“When Trenton agreed to impose the new 2% cap on local property tax levies, they committed themselves to enacting serious management reforms and mandate relief initiatives,” Bollwage said. “to date they have not donw so; leaving Mayor’s unable to manage municipal services within the new limits. Their efforts have nopt provided true tax reform, instead it has brokered the decrease of services on the backs of all residents.”

Bollwage joins Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo as prominent Democrats to oppose the bill expected to be passed through the assembly Monday.

Bollwage initially opposed the cap on tax levies, saying it would force municipalities into massive layoffs.  Bollwage criticized the legislature for passing the cap before the so-called “tool-kit” measures designed to help municipalities stay within the cap.

Republicans, joined by the League of Municipalities have agitated for a hard cap on arbitration awards and Christie has said he will veto any bill that does not contain one.

The bill passed through the assembly budget committee Thursday does not cap awards, despite a week of negotiations between Republican committee members, the governor’s office and committe-chair Lou Greenwald, (D-Vorhees).

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Democratic Elizabeth Mayor Christian Bollwage is pushing the governor to veto the arbitration reform bill set to be voted on by the assembly Monday.

The Democrats’ attempt at reform does not go far enough, Bollwage said.

“The problem with (the arbitration bill) is it does not go far enough to protect municipalities,” Bollwage said in a release. “Instead of asking an arbitrator to consider the cap, they should be required to cap the full economic impact of the award to the same 2% limit.”

In a release, Bollwage, a frequent critic of the governor, nevertheless finds himself on the same side of the fence as Christie, who has said he will veto any bill that does not include a hard cap on arbitration awards.

“When Trenton agreed to impose the new 2% cap on local property tax levies, they committed themselves to enacting serious management reforms and mandate relief activities,” Bollwage said. “To date they have not done so; leaving mayors unable to manage municipal services within the new limits.  Their efforts have not provided true tax reform; instead it has brokered the decrease of services on the backs of all residents.”

Bollwage joins Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo as prominent Democratic critics of the reform measure. 

The plain-spoken mayor was critical of the levy cap passed last summer and predicted the legislature would be unable to come to terms on the “tool kit” measures designed to aid municipalities in staying under the cap.  Arbitration reform is a major component of the kit.

Thursday, the assembly budget committee moved the bill despite howls from the League of Municipalities that it does not achieve the goal and promises from the governor that he would veto the bill.

Republicans had pushed their own version of arbitration reform that included a 2% cap on awards.  After several hours of negotiations, no deal was reached and Democrats went forward with their version.

The bill is set for a full vote by the assembly Monday.<–> Bollwage urges veto of arbitration bill