TRENTON – In a bipartisan effort, Senate President Steve Sweeney announced six legislative proposals aimed at helping to improve the performance of county government while not increasing the property tax burden. The bills—which aim to find alternate sources of revenue to improve county services—include a $5 increase to court fees and a one percent tax on hotels.
“I went along with my colleagues—both republicans and democrats—to counties to come up with these bills,” said Sweeney as he stood in front of a crowd of lawmakers in the New Jersey Statehouse. “These are bills that we actually think will make a difference.”
Cosponsors included the likes of state senators Joe Kyrillos (R-13), Paul Sarlo (D-36), Nellie Pou (D-35) and Bob Singer (R-30), Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37) and Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, among others.
Sweeney explained that input was taken from the county officials to “get their direct input on challenges they face and identify actions that can be taken to help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of county government.”
That input resulted in the six following bill proposals:
- Expanded Cap Law to Control Spending Increases (S3168). Proposes a two percent limit on annual increases to how much of a county’s property tax levy is given to county independent agencies.
- Hotel Tax Dedicated to Tax Relief (S3169). Gives counties the ability to impose a one percent tax on hotel stays. According to Weinberg, who sponsored the bill, this will allow for visitors to the state to help fund county services.
- Government Accountability (S3170). Adds the County Superintendent of Elections to the list of officials subject to annual administrative code requirements.
- PILOT Transparency (S3019). Requires tax abatement agreements to be filed with the county finance officer and counsel.
- Court Security Paid by Court Users (S663). Levies a $5 increase in court fees for all criminal and domestic courts to pay for security.
- Court Security (S2200). Allows for all county sheriffs to appoint “class two” (part time) officers to perform security duties.
With New Jersey’s property taxes being the highest in the country, county officials stress the importance of keeping the state affordable both for taxpayers and municipalities.
“For years, my administration has been lobbying the state for a fair funding formula to help pay for state mandated functions,” said DiVincenzo. “This package of bills being advanced by Senate President Sweeney answers our call to create new sources of recurring revenue without placing additional burden on property tax payers.”