BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Bridgewater Mayor Matthew Moench testified Thursday before the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee in support of a bill that would allow municipalities to avoid imposing drastic tax increases on residents because of unexpected losses of revenue from COVID-19.
The bill, according to a release from the township, allows for the impact of the lost revenue and increased expenditures to be spread out over a 10-year time period through special Coronavirus Relief Bonds. The goal, the release said, is to allow municipalities to have more flexibility with their finances without having to pass along a large tax increase to residents.
Through the bill, municipalities would have the chance to pay back the bonds over a 10-year period.
The bill passed 5–4, and was reported out of committee.
“I’m glad that this bill is moving forward,” Moench said in his testimony. “This allows towns the flexibility that they need to manage their finances without simply coming to the state asking for handouts. It’s an important tool. It doesn’t substitute cutting, it doesn’t substitute other fiscally responsible things that we can do, but it is part of that toolbox that we need, and I ask you all to support it.”
The release said a companion bill has been introduced in the State Senate, but hearing dates have not yet been determined.
Moench said he has been teaming up with municipal leaders across the state to advocate for the relief for taxpayers, including Mayor Colleen Mahr (D-Fanwood) and Mayor Keith Kazmark (D-Woodland Park).
On Wednesday, the release said, Moench moderated a webinar panel discussion with Mahr and Kazmark, along with Michael Cerra of the League of Municipalities, Matthew Jessup from MacManimon & Scotland and Dan Marienello and Michael Hanley from NW Financial. The panel, the release said, was attended by about 100 local officials and professionals.
“Two weeks ago, I sent a letter to Gov. Murphy and legislative leaders called for this type of action on behalf of the residents of Bridgewater,” Moench said in the release. “Since then, several elected officials from both sides of the aisle and financial professionals have teamed up with me to push for these reforms. I would like to especially thank Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr and Woodland Park Mayor Keith Kazmark for their hard work and partnership.”
“We will continue to advocate for our taxpayers until the governor signs this bill,” he added.