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Reform Measure Will Allow Voters to Take Control of Local Finances, Save Money

(TRENTON) – Assembly Majority Leader-Elect Louis Greenwald and Sen. Donald Norcross on Thursday unveiled a reform measure that would allow voters to take greater control of their property tax bills by permitting towns to move their school elections from April to November.
The bill ( A-4394/S-3148) provides several methods by which municipalities can move their elections to November, saving money by allowing towns to consolidate the April school election with the November general election.
“Politicians and pundits have talked about doing this for years, but special interests and inertia have prevented progress on this important issue–until today,” said Greenwald (D-Camden). “Empowering towns to move their school elections to November will give voters better control of their local finances while saving property taxpayers the costs of holding yet another local election.”
“This bill will save local towns and local taxpayers millions of dollars, by permitting them to eliminate the costs associated with unnecessarily duplicative elections,” said Norcross (D-Camden/Gloucester). “At the same time, more citizens will have a voice in the process, which is a win-win for our communities.”
The bill provides several methods by which a school district’s annual school election can be moved to the date of November’s general election. Specifically, a district’s school election could be moved to November:
Upon the adoption of a resolution by the governing body of the municipality;
Upon the adoption of a resolution by the municipality’s board of education, or;
If a petition signed by 15 percent of the legally qualified voters who voted in the immediately preceding presidential election is filed with the municipality’s board of education.
Municipalities that successfully move their school elections to November will not be permitted to move their election back to the third Tuesday in April until at least four school elections have been held in November.
For limited purpose regional school districts, each of the constituent local school districts must approve moving the election to November.
“Our legislation represents a big step on the road to true property tax reform,” said Norcross. “This bill provides the towns and the voters the tools they need, giving our communities a better say on their schools and their property taxes.”
“School finances are by far the largest chunk of a property tax bill and yet school elections consistently have some of the lowest turnout in our state,” said Greenwald. “This bill will allow towns to move their school elections to November, empowering more voters to make decisions on taxes and spending that directly impact their property taxes and their quality of life.”