WEST ORANGE, NJ - On Wednesday evening, May 23, Assemblyperson Mila Jasey hosted a Building ONE New Jersey meeting at the Marriott Courtyard in West Orange. The crowd, comprised of Mayors, Councilpersons, Board of Education members, and townspeople representing various organizations from West Orange, Montclair, Belleville, Nutley, South Orange, Maplewood, and Newark, was standing room only.
The purpose of the meeting was to draw attention to the plight of 'older' communities that are struggling with a fiscally stressed middle class due to property taxes that must fund their local governments and school districts, and the changing demographics that challenge our towns. The keynote speaker was David Rusk, author of Inside Game/Outside Game, which the Government Finance Review called “a must-read for all practicing local government officials,elected or appointed, working in a metropolitan area.” Rusk, now an independent consultant on urban and suburban policy, has consulted in over 120 US communities as well as abroad. Rusk shared the information about affordable housing, changing town demographics and the unsustainability of the current funding formulas in New Jersey.
Additionally, Governor Christie has proposed modifications to current law that will affect school funding. He has also proposed to take monies from town accounts being withheld by the state for affordable housing and put it back into the general state budget. In West Orange alone, $27 million dollar deficit exists due to the state not fully reimbursing municipalities their Energy Tax & Consolidated Municipal Property Tax Relief referred to as CMPTRA (=State Aid distribution) . The Fair Housing accounts would add up to millions more in lost revenue.
On June 12, a meeting will be held at Bloomfield High School at 7:00 pm: "How Will the Proposed State Budget Impact our Public Schools"; on June 13 there will be a local Building ONE NJ meeting at the office of Assemblyperson Jasey in Maplewood at 9:30 am; and on Sunday, September 30 a statewide rally is planned from 4:00-6:00 pm, location to be determined, to press state and national policy makers to act on bi-partisan solutions to issues impacting our communities.