New Jersey mayors descended on the State House in Trenton today that the state should stop withholding energy tax money they claim is due to municipalities. Taxes on gas and electric utilities were formerly collected by the host municipalities. When the State made itself the collection agent for these taxes, it promised to dedicate the proceeds to municipal property tax relief. For years, though, State budget makers have diverted funding from Energy Taxes to fund State programs. The chairman of the State Senate Budget Committee agrees with the mayors.

“I’m going to put forward a bill,” says Senator Paul Sarlo. “A bill that will begin to phase in the energy gross receipts tax. We’re going to have to put language in there to make sure it helps reduce the property tax levy.”

Because the budget supersedes any existing law, Sarlo says, “We’re going to have to get a little creative here.”

League of Municipalities’ President, Mayor Art Ondish of Mount Arlington Borough is urging legislators, “To begin to end the State’s chronic dependence on local revenues to balance its budget. We want you to begin to restore to local budgets the dollars that have been diverted for many years to State purposes.”