TRENTON – The Senate approved legislation today sponsored by Senator Jeff Van Drew that would allow local library boards to transfer surplus funds to the local municipality in order to provide property tax relief to homeowners.
“This bill will provide much needed property tax relief to towns that are desperately trying to stay underneath the 4% cap while maintaining services,” said Senator Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland and Atlantic. “Unfortunately, State law can mandate an annual increase in library funding far beyond what is needed, preventing our towns from efficiently and fairly using tax dollars.”
Senator Van Drew’s bill, S-429, would amend current law dealing with municipal libraries to permit a municipal library board of trustees to identify excess funds that the board intends to approve and transfer to the municipality as miscellaneous revenue. Under the bill, excess funds for transfer would be any amount that exceeds 125% of the expenditures for the most recent budget year.
According to Senator Van Drew, the State Librarian would have to approve any proposed transfer to guarantee the long-term finances of the library are not endangered by the transfer.
“While it’s important that our towns have the ability make sure that every dollar raised through property taxes is used appropriately, but we want to protect libraries from being raided to keep property taxes down. The State Librarian’s veto power will make sure that our libraries stay strong while we keep spending under control,” added Senator Van Drew.
Senator Van Drew said that the need for these transfers comes about because funding for municipal libraries are governed by the value of a municipalities tax base and can rise up to 15% in a given year while municipal budgets overall are limited to a 4% raise in the annual tax levy.
The bill passed by a vote of 37-0 and now goes to the Governor’s desk for his signature.