Less money for a rainy day

From the Times Trenton:

Tax plan may not bring relief

A leading Wall Street bond rating firm has warned that the Legislature’s tax relief strategy could create fiscal problems for New Jersey’s 566 municipalities in years to come.

In a report issued this week, Moody’s Investors Service cautioned that the state’s tax reform act, signed earlier this month by Gov. Jon Corzine, will increase municipal reliance on budget surpluses to balance spending plans and will force less conservative budget practices.

“Moody’s anticipates that the new law will result in more municipalities utilizing higher levels of reserves (surplus) to support operations while diminishing their opportunity to fully replenish, thereby reducing financial flexibility.”

What it means, critics of the tax reform measure say, is less money for a rainy day.

“There is no question there is always unexpected circumstances that need to be funded and if you don’t have a surplus, that can cause consequences elsewhere in the budget,” said state Sen. Peter Inverso, R-Hamilton, who voted against the measure last month. “Where do you take it from? Do you close schools or lay off employees?”

Inverso said there have always been questions about how much surplus is necessary and some township’s may be too conservative, but “to have no surplus is clearly risky.”

In a second report issued earlier this month, Moody’s maintained the “negative outlook” on the state’s school districts, also as a re sult of the tax relief law.

“Moody’s believes that the 4 percent cap on property tax increases for school districts limits the ability to raise revenues to meet increasing expenditures and, together with existing fund balance restrictions, will present challenges to school districts to balance their budgets going forward,” the report said.

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3 Responses to Less money for a rainy day

  1. Andra says:

    There was an article in the Hunterdon Democrat about the freeholders still not resolved on spending $3 million (on top of the $99 million budget) for a club house at a municipal golf course. Thats where we are, that they still think these are services that municipalities should provide. What percentage of the taxpayers get any use from the golf course, let alone a club house at the golf course? They spend hundreds of thousands landscaping parking lots every time they put something up, probably because the money goes to someone with an in.

    I have 3 libraries within 5 miles. The one in Flemington town, you’ll never see 3 “customers” in there. The county library on Route 12 usually has more staff than customers. People don’t use libraries any more. They buy the books they want to read and the kids use computers to do their research for school reports. All the schools have libraries, too.

    We probably provide pensions for everyone who works at these facilities that are of NO use to the great majority of town residents and not a necessity to anyone. Its so unfair.

  2. RentinginNJ says:

    In a town where I used to live, the mayor proposed to build a “butt hut” adjacent to the town hall, where smoking town employees could spend their lazy days sucking on cigarettes without suffering the inconvenience of being outside. The cost would have been in the tens of thousands.

    The local paper got a hold of it and the idea was quickly squashed. If the paper didn’t pick up on it, it probably would have went unnoticed.

  3. Lindsey says:

    “…will increase municipal reliance on budget surpluses to balance spending plans and will force less conservative budget practices.”

    It is quite clear that all of the people involved in this story have either never seen a municipal budget, are liars, are dopes, or dupes.

    Surpluses already vary widely from town to town, and the line in the budget that says surplus is about as accurate and realistic a reflection of reality as a sitcom is of life.

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