Assemblywoman Says Property Taxpayers Should Not Shoulder Costs for Governor’s Shutdown
Assemblywoman Elizabeth Maher Muoio on Thursday announced legislation to protect local governments from costs incurred by delays as a result of Gov. Christie’s initial executive order (210) issued in June shutting down transportation projects until the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) crisis is resolved.
“The State Department of Transportation has continually made financial commitments of TTF funds to our local governments to assist in funding local transportation projects,” said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “Local governments have relied upon the state’s commitments and have undertaken the necessary work to construct, repair and maintain their local projects. Despite repeatedly assuring us all, even up until the week before issuing his Executive Order, that the TTF was not in financial crisis, the Governor declared otherwise on June 30.
“It has now been over a month since roughly $3 billion in transportation projects came to a halt during the height of prime construction season and local governments are in the dark regarding their responsibility for the escalating delay costs associated with Governor Christie’s shutdown. We have to ensure that the costs of these construction delays do not fall on the backs of our local property taxpayers.”
Muoio’s bill would require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to consider shutdown related delay damages realized by local governing entities on transportation projects supported through the local aid program to be compensable delays. As such, these delay damages would be paid by the State DOT rather than by property taxes raised at the local level.
Muoio noted that the bill would offset the costs incurred for any projects not covered under the second TTF-related executive order (213) issued by Gov. Christie yesterday.
“This legislation ensures that we follow through on the obligations made to our counties, towns and school districts,” added Muoio. “These entities relied upon the state commitments when they entered into their local contracts, and if escalated costs are now incurred due to the Governor’s order, then financial responsibility should be laid at the feet of the state, not our local governments and the property taxpayers who fund them.”
Muoio intends to introduce the legislation at the next Assembly quorum call.