Measure Would Give Lake Officials Dedicated Revenue Stream for Environmental Cleanup
TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Bob Smith which would authorize the Greenwood Lake Commission to charge certain fees to permanently fund environmental cleanup of the lake was unanimously approved by the Senate Environment Committee today.
“As New Jersey struggles with nearly chronic budgetary shortfalls, we need to look to new ways to fund worthwhile programs,” said Senator Smith, D-Middlesex and Somerset, and the Chair of the Committee. “Government agencies at all levels are being asked to do more with less, and all options are on the table to balance our books and bring back a sense of fiscal responsibility to Trenton. It’s time that some of our State’s commissions and localized programs move towards self-sufficiency.”
The bill, S-1833, would give the Greenwood Lake Commission in Passaic County the authority to charge certain specified fees for docks, wharfs, moorings and boats on the lake. The funds collected would be deposited into a dedicated account, and would be used to fund the Commission’s activities in maintaining and cleaning up the lake, including stump removal and weed harvesting from the lake, and the implementation of stormwater and septic management plans. Senator Smith added that the bill is entirely permissive, and that the ultimate choice to adopt fees would be up to the Commission
“I think it’s wholly appropriate for the Greenwood Lake Commission to charge a small user fee to fund programs designed to keep the lake beautiful,” said Senator Smith. “However, this legislation only empowers the Commission to charge fees, and imposes nothing. Ultimately, it falls to the Commission members to review their finances, and decide if they want to adopt user fees as a dedicated portion of their revenue stream.”
Senator Smith added that a previous version of the bill also contained language which would have allowed the Lake Hopatcong Commission in Morris County to charge fees, but that the language was removed at the request of Commissioners and State Senator Anthony Bucco, R-Morris, who represents Lake Hopatcong in his legislative district. Senator Smith said that he would honor the Commission’s wishes, but cautioned that the State is in a difficult position to provide funding for programs on Lake Hopatcong this year.
“We don’t want to force the Lake Hopatcong Commission to do something it doesn’t want to do,” said Senator Smith. “However, the Commission members need to understand that with the budget situation this year, there simply isn’t any money for the most worthy State programs – and that funding uncertainty extends for the foreseeable future. My door’s always open to suggestions, but State lawmakers can’t print money, and if the Commission’s funding runs dry, we don’t have the resources to write them a blank check to finance their activities.”
The bill now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee before going to the full Senate for consideration.