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Eustace, Zwicker, Downey, Wisniewski & Pinkin Measure to Facilitate Municipal Consolidation Now Law

Easing Consolidation Between Municipalities Can Improve Efficiency, Reduce Burden on Taxpayers

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace, Andrew Zwicker, Joann Downey, John Wisniewski and Nancy Pinkin to facilitate municipal consolidation in New Jersey is now law.

“New Jersey leads the nation in property taxes, which often leads our residents to consider moving to a state that’s more affordable,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Making it easier for some of the more than 500 municipalities in New Jersey to consolidate can help lower property taxes and ultimately keep people here.”

The new law (A-2202) authorizes municipalities to adopt ordinances for special emergency appropriations in order to cover non-recurring expenses they incur to implement a municipal consolidation. The authorization of the special appropriation is subject to the approval of the director of the Division of Local Government Services.

The use of special emergency appropriations to fund the non-recurring costs associated with the consolidation process will allow consolidating municipalities to immediately begin to realize the financial savings of municipal consolidation, the sponsors noted.

“Over the long term, consolidation can help streamline services and ultimately lower property taxes, but at the beginning, municipalities have to determine how to pay for the associated one-time, upfront costs,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “With greater access to money to cover these costs, more municipalities can get on the road to consolidation and with it, a reduction in the tax burden on their residents.”

“If municipalities find that consolidating can deliver benefits for their residents, the initial financial obstacle should not prevent them from implementing a practical means of decreasing taxes,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “With this new law, municipalities will be able to cut costs and provide immediate savings for taxpayers.”

“Municipal consolidation is an important step in achieving property tax reform in New Jersey,” said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). “It may not be the answer for all municipalities, but those that see it as a viable avenue to lower taxes should be able to pass the benefits on to taxpayers as soon as possible.”

“High property taxes are driving people out of New Jersey. Consolidation isn’t a panacea, but it can help,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “If one-time expenses associated with consolidation are reasonable and consolidation will result in long-term savings, then making a special emergency appropriation ought to be permissible.”

The governor signed the legislation into law on Friday.