Christie Administration continuing McGreevey/Corzine practice of keeping utilities monies intended for municipalities.
Lost in the hysteria of Democrats fighting with each other was news buried on page 3 of yesterday’s Asbury Park Press that actually affects your property taxes.
The Editorial Board of the Monmouth and Ocean Counties paper of record actually met with local mayors! Call that progress. MMM criticised the APP editorial board last month for sitting down with Newark Mayor Cory Booker for no reason other than to boost Booker’s statewide name ID when they, until yesterday, hardly, if ever, meet with local mayors.
Middletown Mayor Tony Fiore and Long Branch Mayor Adam Schneider met with the Neptune Nudniks on Wednesday, at the behest of the League of Municipalities. The mayors’ purpose was to bring attention to the State’s decades old practice of keeping the energy receipts tax that public utilities pay.
In energy receipts tax has been in existence for decades. It was originally set up in lieu of property taxes to compensate municipalities for the utility infrastructure rights of way. The tax used to be broken out on your utility bill. It was paid by the utilities directly to the municipalities.
In 2002, during the McGreevey administration, the State started collecting to tax. We all know what happens to money when to goes to the black whole of Trenton for redistribution. Much of it disappears and the intended recipients get shafted. Think Unemployment Insurance Fund and Transportation Trust Fund.
Fiore told MMM that the League sued McGreevey to get the money but the State just turned around a reduced State Aid by a commensurate amount.
Fiore, Schneider and the League now want that money back. It’s not coming, according to what State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff told the APP, “At this time we do not have the financial flexibility to make discretionary adjustment” to provide more from energy taxes.
Fiore told MMM that the energy receipts tax would have provided $4 million dollars to Middletown Township in 2011. That would have saved the Library surplus the Township relied on, prevented layoffs and cleaned up a few snow storms.
What burns Fiore is not just the $4 million that Middletown didn’t collect from the utilities. It’s the $1.5 million hit the Township continues to take in reduced State Aid from 2009 levels. “We wouldn’t be increasing property taxes 1.97% this year if our Aid was restored,” said Fiore, “give us our $1.5 million back and I can reduce taxes by 2%. The Board of Education got all of their Aid restored, yet they are still raising taxes.”
Schneider told the APP that not receiving the energy receipts tax is costing Long Branch “several million dollars.”