Capping and Controlling Property Taxes
- Senator Sweeney worked to enact the 2010 2% property tax cap, which is the most stringent cap ever enacted in New Jersey. This cap law limits the amount by which property taxes may be raised annually and also eliminates a number of exemptions that were allowed under the previous cap law.
- Senator Sweeney has pursued many innovative efforts toward shared services between municipalities as a means for alleviating the budgetary concerns currently experienced by many communities, including previously introducing legislation that would eliminate government inefficiencies by creating fiscal consequences for local government entities that refuse to enter into sharing agreements that could help their property taxpayers.
- Senator Sweeney’s school funding plan, as described in the “Education” section, is designed to eliminate the extra burden on property taxpayers of compensating for inequities in current state funding to school districts. By bringing all districts to their expected funding level, municipalities will not have to look to local taxpayers to make up deficiencies.
- Assemblyman Burzichelli sponsored legislation, now law, that adds the superintendent of elections to the list of county entities and officials that may be subject to the annual requirements set forth in a county’s administrative code. Some counties have promulgated their own administrative codes, which can outline regulations regarding governing structure, collective negotiations, and budgeting controls. Under current law, if a county has an administrative code, it must be adhered to by the county board of taxation, board of election, clerk, surrogate, jury commissioners, sheriff, and now the superintendent of elections.
- In an effort to provide cost savings to ratepayers and to help put people to work on infrastructure, Assemblyman Burzichelli penned a law that provides that opportunity. The law exempts payments for certain utility and telecommunication services provided by companies under the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) from the school district and local government bill certification process as required for payments with public money. Included services are: telecommunications, electric, gas, water, or sewer utility services provided by a public utility service and regulated by the BPU. The law’s intent is that since the billing procedures, service, and rates for public utility service are reviewed and regulated by the NJ Board of Public Utilities, the additional certification requirement is redundant on school districts, local government units, and regulated public utilities. By providing this exemption, school districts and local government entities won’t have to dedicate staff to this duplicative process. While savings won’t be enormous, the intent is that every little bit of cost savings can help put people to work on infrastructure and also save ratepayers money.
- Assemblyman Burzichelli’s measure that would change the closing time for polls for school elections to 8:00 P.M., thus making that closing time consistent with the closing time for polls for the general and primary election, is now law.
- In response to concerns about the long-term stability of the pension system, Senator Sweeney authored legislation requiring the state to pay its pension contributions on a quarterly basis, by September 30, December 31, March 31, and June 30 of each year, beginning on July 1, 2017. The measure was passed unanimously by the Legislature and signed in to law by the Governor on December 15, 2016. Requiring payments to be made quarterly, instead of at the end of the fiscal year, generates months of additional investment earnings for the pension funds throughout the year, which then reduces the amount of money that needs to be contributed in the future. It is expected that, by 2023, quarterly payments will generate $200 million a year in additional investment income. With compounding growth, those additional investment earnings will save taxpayers $12 billion over the next 30 years.
- As a result of ongoing uncertainty with the pension system and the fluctuating rates of return on the pension system’s investments, Senator Sweeney and Assemblyman Taliaferro introduced legislation that would stabilize the system and bring more reliable rates of return. The plan would allow the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) to borrow from the state pension fund. This would provide the pension fund with a guaranteed rate of return better than it is currently earning on its fixed asset portfolio. Placing some TTF debt with the state’s pension fund would save on the cost of bond underwriting fees and lower the TTF’s long-term debt costs.