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(TRENTON) – Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Chairman John McKeon (D-Essex) released the following Thursday as his committee convened a hearing to examine state mandates imposed on local governments:

“Good morning everyone and welcome to a very unique – yet very important – meeting of the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.
“A few weeks ago I was assigned a critical task by Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver – examine the state mandates that are a driving force behind property taxes and recommend reforms that can save taxpayers money.
“As someone who has had the honor of serving in both state and municipal government, I was gratified to be given this important job.
“I know what it’s like to balance the needs of a local community with state mandates.
“But I also know that some mandates are developed with the best of intentions to protect the public safety, health and welfare.
“Our goal here is to find out which mandates we can streamline and eliminate those that are no longer needed, all the while keeping in mind that the goal is to help control property taxes.
“If done correctly, we can bring real savings to property taxpayers without spending a dime, simply by easing mandates that may no longer be serving their purpose or are simply too burdensome.
“When state government imposes a law or regulation upon a municipality, it’s the property taxpayers who end up paying the bill.
“If we’re going to make a dramatic difference in finally combating property taxes, this is clearly an area that needs to be examined.
“And today is just the start.
“This is part of an overall effort to bring systemic change to a system that simply costs taxpayers too much money.
“I expect to hold additional hearings in September on education mandates and on shared services and municipal consolidation.
“We’ll have further details to announce on those topics later on down the road.
“As for today, I’m looking forward to a productive hearing.
“Today we will hear from the Departments of Community Affairs and Treasury, and I understand officials from the DEP and DOT are also present.
“We’ll also hear from the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, the New Jersey Health Officers Association, the New Jersey Local Boards of Health Association, New Jersey environmental authorities, the New Jersey Library Association, and the New Jersey Laborers Union.
“I thank each and every one of these groups for their willingness to join in this effort and work hand-in-hand on property tax reform.
“As you’ll hear, we’ll be discussing many topics, so I won’t get too deep into them now, but just as a sneak preview, I hope to hear what we can to streamline laws and regulations on topics such as municipal master plans, planning documents, audits, tax maps, qualified purchasing agents, recycling coordinators and court mandates and directives.
“Granted, that is not a list that resembles a thrill ride.
“Yet, some of the regulations and requirements surrounding those topics can drive up property taxes and they deserve the first in-depth analysis of their effectiveness in years.
“That is what we’re going to start to do here today.”