TRENTON, NJ - Municipalities, financially stressed by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic would be able to fill budget shortfalls without major tax increases on residents under a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Sen. Kip Bateman, R-16th.

“For some local governments, borrowing might be the only solution,” Bateman said. “Across the state, tax revenue is down substantially and expenses have skyrocketed due to the virus. As a last resort, long term debt could help towns buy time until businesses reopen, people go back to work, and a sustainable recovery is under way.”

Bateman has joined Senate Democrat Troy Singleton to sponsor the bill which would authorize municipalities and counties to issue “coronavirus relief bonds.”

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The Assembly approved the identical bill earlier this month.

“This would be one more option to weather the storm for local governments to consider,” said Bateman. “One thing is clear. Our towns, like New Jersey residents and businesses, are going to need help getting through this mess.”

The measure allows local governments that have experienced revenue losses directly attributable to the COVID-19 outbreak to borrow money.

Mayors across the state and the New Jersey League of Municipalities have supported Bateman’s initiative.

“Municipalities across the state are facing unprecedented financial challenges due to Covid-19 and need the tools to manage this crisis,” said Bridgewater Mayor Matthew Moench, noting his town is facing a $2.1 million loss in revenue that could force a 10 percent tax increase. “Mayors supporting this bill aren’t asking for handouts from the state.  This legislation provides the flexibility for each municipality to decide how best to manage the financial impact of the pandemic in the best interest of their taxpayers.

"In addition to reducing expenses, cutting costs, and other cost saving measures, we can avoid burdening residents with a significant tax increase at a time when so many are already hurting financially," Moench added. I thank Senator Bateman and all the sponsors for supporting taxpayers across the state.”

“The current events we live and govern in are unprecedented. We have an opportunity to offer an essential tool to those towns who want to avoid significant harm to taxpayers in a time where people can least afforded to deal with these issues,” said Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr. “This legislation will allow towns that need relief to act quickly in a responsible manner to avoid tax increases, reductions in services or layoffs of employees. I appreciate Senator Bateman’s efforts for this critical piece of legislation and the recognition of the financial crisis many municipalities will face.”