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Senate Starts Loading Up Property Tax Reform ‘Tool Kit’

Passes Five Bills Aimed at Cutting Local Costs, Helping Communities Better Cope With New Two-Percent Tax Cap

TRENTON – Five bills that would comprise part of the property tax “tool kit” to help local governments deal with new fiscal realities under the recently enacted two-percent property tax cap law were today passed by the Senate.

“The new cap on its own is not the end-all and be-all of our efforts to help New Jersey’s long-beleaguered property taxpayers,” said Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem), who sponsored the new cap law. “County governments, town councils and school boards all need the flexibility to ensure the cap works. These reforms will help officials deal with life under the new cap and help taxpayers who want to see nothing more than an end to this vicious cycle of out-of-control taxes.”

The bills passed today would:

– Authorize state colleges to team together to form risk management groups and joint liability funds to cut insurance costs (S-1998/2067, sponsored by Senators Teresa Ruiz, D-Essex, and Thomas H. Kean, Jr, R-Union/Essex/Morris/Somerset). It passed 35-0;

– Prohibit new employees of groups such as the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, School Boards Association and Association of Counties from enrolling in public employee pension funds or public health plans (S-2100, sponsored by Sweeney and Ruiz). It passed 37-0

– Eliminate the requirement that counties and municipalities make a five-percent down payment for bonds (S-2209, sponsored by Sweeney). It passed 22-15

– Bring all public employees under the current state law that caps unused sick and leave time payouts at $15,000 (S-2220, sponsored by Senator Paul Sarlo, D-Bergen/Essex/Passaic). It passed 21-16 with one abstenstion;

– Promote mergers of municipal courts by allowing for the early termination of appointed positions that would be made redundant by the move (S-2233, sponsored by Senator Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). It passed 34-0

The measures now head the Assembly for further considerations.

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