Today, the general public got its first chance to tell state lawmakers what they think of Governor Chris Christie’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 State Budget proposal. The reviews where generally very positive, but it is clear that New Jersey mayors are still worried about keeping property tax increases below the 2-percent cap.

“Hopefully, many of the Sandy emergency costs will be off-set through FEMA reimbursements, but pension costs as well as ‘inside-the-cap’ costs like insurance premiums, utility bills, reserves for uncollected taxes, funding of tax appeals and motor fuels continue to rise by much more than 2-percent,” explains Janice Mironov, New Jersey State League of Municipalities president and East Windsor mayor.

“The time has come to restore to local budgets the millions in property tax relief that have been annually diverted to meet State needs.”

Mironov and other mayors are calling the State to return proceeds from Energy Tax Receipts. Local officials claim the funds are rightfully theirs and help rein in property tax increases. Christie has previously said the funds belong to the state.

“Clearly there’s a lot of good in this budget, but one of the things that I think is problematic that we’re going have to deal with as a committee is aid to our municipalities,” says State Senate Budget Committee chairman, Paul Sarlo. “Especially those counties that were hit (by Superstorm Sandy), Ocean and Monmouth, parts of Bergen, parts of Middlesex that have lost extreme property values on top of the flat municipal aid and struggling to pay their bills. We’re concerned about quality of services.”