ROXBURY, NJ - The Roxbury Mayor and Council was assured recently that a proposed law allocating $500,000 each year for Lake Hopatcong weed control and other maintenance would be a far more stable source of money than past funding plans.
The pledge was made by state Assemblyman Anthony Bucco (R-25th Dist.) who also serves as Roxbury Township counsel. He did so at the last Roxbury council meeting after Roxbury Councilman Jim Rilee, while supportive of the legislation, warned that money promised by Trenton has a way of being withdrawn over time.
"The problem is there are no guarantees in life," Rilee commented.
However, Bucco said the bill he co-authored - which was released Monday from the Assembly Appropriations Committee - comes pretty close to making such a guarantee. The money would come from boat license fees, he explained.
"Every year, the boat operator licenses have to be obtained and those licenses are obtained from the state for a fee and a portion of that fee that the state collects will be dedicated to the Lake Hopatcong Commission for operations on the lake," Bucco told the council. "That would become a yearly thing. The legislation will dedicate those funds year after year so that the commission will every year have a budget of $500,000 for purposes of cleaning the lake, running the lake and running the commission."
While the money will be "dedicated funds," Bucco conceded that "if, for any reason, the Legislature deems to change the dedication then that could be an issue."
Bucco said he expects the bill to come up for full Assembly vote in the first week of January. It would then go to the governor for his consideration, he said. A twin state Senate bill, co-authored by Bucco's father, state Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-Sussex, Morris Warren) was been approved by the Senate earlier this month.
“Lake Hopatcong brings in millions in revenue for the state each year,” said the senator in a recent statement. “Our economy will suffer if we don’t find a stable way to pay for annual weed harvesting and stormwater management. We shouldn't have to scramble every year to find the money we need to keep boaters and swimmers safe. I believe that our bill is a fiscally-responsible solution to this problem. I will continue to do everything I can to get it signed into law.”
The assemblyman, at the council meeting, pointed out that current funding for Lake Hopatcong Commission activities came out of the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) budget. He said the DEP commissioner would "pen-in" a number that the governor could subsequently eliminate "when money got tight" in the state. "It's a little bit different this time," Bucco said.