TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May/Cumberland/Atlantic) to help municipalities cut costs by giving them the flexibility to eliminate unnecessary positions after merging municipal courts today was unanimously approved by the full Senate.
The bill (S-2233) is part of a legislative effort to give municipalities additional tools to reduce costs and make it possible to live within the new 2 percent cap on local property tax increases.
“If we expect to put a stop to ever-increasing property taxes, we must give local officials the necessary tools to keep costs down,” said Senator Van Drew. “This bill is part of the Legislature’s effort to help loosen the strangle-hold current laws have on local governments that prevent them from running as efficiently and effectively as they should.”
The bill would allow for the early termination of appointed municipal judges, public defenders and prosecutors when two or more municipalities consolidate municipal court functions. Under current law, municipal judges are appointed to a statutorily mandated three-year term, and municipal public defenders and prosecutors are appointed for one-year terms.
“It makes no sense for neighboring municipalities to share courts if they are forced to continue to pay salaries and benefits to multiple judges, prosecutors and public defenders,” said Senator Van Drew. “This will allow towns and cities to eliminate unnecessary positions so they can actually achieve the cost savings that makes consolidating and sharing services worthwhile.”
The measure was approved by a vote of 34-0.