Legislation is advancing in the New Jersey Assembly that would require the compilation of a list of all unfunded mandates on municipalities and counties.
Assembly Bill No. 1034 would require the Commissioner of Community Affairs to compile a list of all ongoing mandates required by the state and federal government on municipalities and counties for which funding to pay the entire cost has not been provided by the state or by the federal government, as appropriate. The list must also contain a good faith estimate of the cost to counties or municipalities of compliance with the mandate. The list would be posted on the department’s web page and be updated annually by July 1 of each calendar year.
In 1995, voters approved an amendment to the New Jersey Constitution that banned unfunded mandates, defined as a law or regulation that does not authorize resources, other than the property tax, to offset the additional direct expenditures required for its implementation. The constitutional amendment does not affect mandates of the federal government or mandates imposed by the state prior to the amendment’s effective dates.
As highlighted in the statement accompanying AB 1034, the cost of existing unfunded mandates on counties and municipalities are ultimately borne by local property taxpayers through the payment of their property tax bills. The proposed list will allow the Legislature to determine the true financial effect the existing mandates have on the State’s property tax payers, and how those costs might be mitigated. Accordingly, groups like the New Jersey State League of Municipalities support the legislation.
“While other state departments, beyond the Department of Community Affairs, may impose mandates on local government—this review is a welcome start,” the New Jersey State League of Municipalities stated.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee advanced the bill earlier this month. We will continue to track the status of the legislation and post updates as they become available.
For more information about the proposed unfunded mandates bill or the legal issues involved, we encourage you to contact a member of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Government Law Group.