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Sarlo – State Needs To Do More To Restore Municipal Aid

Senator Says CMPTRA Fund Restorations, Taken From Other Municipal Aid Programs, Do Not Help

TRENTON – Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman, Senator Paul A. Sarlo, D-Bergen, Essex and Passaic, issued the following statement after hearing from State Treasurer David Rousseau about the state of current budget cuts, particularly in regards to the Consolidated Municipal Property Tax Relief Aid (CMPTRA) program, during an update on the FY 2009 Budget:

“While I’m happy that the Administration has at least shown a willingness to restore some of the deep cuts in CMPTRA aid which will translate to substantial property tax increases for homeowners in small towns, the proposed restorations do not go far enough.

“Specifically, I am very concerned that restorations are being funded through cuts in other areas of municipal aid. This sort of a shell game plays lip service to the real needs of municipalities to meet the service demands of their residents without being entirely unaffordable to all but the wealthiest property owners.

“I’ve said before, in terms of the new school funding formula increases and CMPTRA reductions, that we’re putting money in one pocket, and then taking it out of the other. Now, we’re playing a slick game with taxpayers’ money, and that’s not right.

“We need to be honest about where restorations are coming from, and identify sources in the State bureaucracy, and not other areas of municipal aid, to help relieve pressure on local property tax levies. We need to restore municipal aid on a rational basis, recognizing the impact of State funding cuts in total on property taxpayers’ wallets. And we need to have a new municipal aid formula – steeped in reality and recognizing that small towns can be efficient stewards of taxpayer dollars – before we tackle next year’s budget.

“From today’s testimony, it looks like the Governor recognizes that drastic CMPTRA cuts would be devastating to municipal budgets, but the proposed solution does nothing to help make municipalities whole. We cannot continue to fund the beast of State bureaucracy while taxpayers are being soaked by Trenton’s unwillingness to deal with its own fiscal house. I will continue to push for real restorations of CMPTRA aid, to hopefully avoid massive property tax increases which would kill regular families seeking to get by in the face of a national recession.”

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