NEWARK – The conversation on the return of energy tax receipts continued on Monday during the Assembly Budget Committee hearing, dominating the early morning discussion held at UMDNJ.
Arthur Ondish, the president of the League of Municipalities and the mayor of Mt. Arlington, once again pushed for the restoration of funding in the form of energy tax receipts to be used for local property tax relief.
Payments in lieu of local taxes from energy utility companies are paid directly to the state, instead of to individual municipalities. The state is not paying the full amount collected back to the municipalities, and the League says the money belongs to the local towns and cities.
Ondish once again said the League knows that the municipalities will not see all of the money back from the state (approximately $505 million from last year, he said), but he is hoping to come to a compromise.
Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-36), Passaic, asked that if the money were to be returned, that it be earmarked for property tax relief. Ondish agreed with the idea.
Getting the money out of the state’s hands received bipartisan support at the hearing, as Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26), Whippany, proposed that the money be sent directly to the taxpayers from the state.
“That’d be wonderful,” Ondish said.
“I think there’s a lot of consensus to get the money out of the state’s hands,” Webber said.
Ondish said he hopes to form a committee with representatives from the Legislature and the Governor’s office to try and reach a compromise.
The committee is scheduled to hear testimony on education, higher education, and local government issues today during three sessions with approximately 45 speakers signed up to testify.