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Assembly bill would force state to give towns energy tax receipts

Thursday, July 17, 2014   (0 Comments)
Share | 07/17/2014

Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-Mercer) this week introduced a bill that would amend the state Constitution, requiring the state to return increasing portions of Consolidated Municipal Property Tax Relief Aid funds withheld from municipalities since 1997. Amending the state Constitution would prevent the law from being altered or revoked by future elected officials but requires a ballot measure to be approved by voters.

“This is money that’s collected specifically from the utilities that’s supposed to be given back specifically to the municipalities,” DeAngelo said. “The utilities paid that tax to the state, and the state is supposed to reimburse the municipalities. Right now, that’s not being done.”

Utility companies are supposed to reimburse municipalities — which cannot tax real property owned by utilities within their borders — with payments that are collected by the state and distributed. But during the economic recession in the mid-2000s, the state stopped distributing all of the money, using remaining funds in the state budget.

If DeAngelo’s bill is passed by the Legislature and approved by voters, about $400 million would be paid to municipalities over a five-year period between 2016 and 2020. Municipalities would annually receive 20 percent of the funds never received between 2008 and 2015, in addition to annual energy tax receipts.

In 2012, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed budget line items that would have returned some energy tax receipts to municipalities. In 2013, DeAngelo and 14th District colleague Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-Mercer) sponsored a similar bill, which cleared the Assembly with only 5 “no” votes but was never heard in the state Senate.


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