Why Murphy’s budget is rough news for NJ towns
Gov. Phil Murphy's proposed budget indicates most New Jersey towns will see no increase in municipal aid this year — putting strain on local budgets as the struggle to contain property tax hikes goes on.
Murphy's budget would keep municipal property tax relief for the new budget at $1.5 billion. Only nine municipalities would receive more aid, with Atlantic City and Camden topping the list.
Senior Legislative Analyst Jon Moran of The New Jersey League of Municipalities said it's a familiar, but disturbing story.
"Local budget makers deserve a lot of credit for keeping the lid on property taxes, while continuing to deliver the services that they do to the citizens," he said. "We are disappointed, frankly."
Moran said that flat funding formula for towns has prevailed, despite the fact the inflation rate since 2007 has been 22 percent. And there is more pressure on local budgets because "at the beginning of this year the 2 percent cap on arbitration awards for police and fire personnel expired, and the state has not renewed that cap."
"It is not only the municipal aid funding problems that they faced in these years, but the recession had an effect on real estate values. There were a lot of foreclosures during those 8 years (that Chris Christie was governor). You know the natural disasters that have hit our state and our municipalities," Moran said.
Moran saidthe League will be making its case for more aid in testimony before Trenton lawmakers.
"Yo know, the Governor proposes and the legislature disposes, so we are going to be testifying before the state Senate Appropriations budget-writing committees, and we hope to have a friendly audience when we talk to them about the problem," he said.
Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5.