With today?s decision by the Local Finance Board to grant special municipal aid assistance to Bridgeton, Camden, and Paterson, Assemblymen John Amodeo and Vincent Polistina, both R-Atlantic, said that it defies logic how cities that are unable to run themselves continue to receive bailouts from the state, while those that are run efficiently are told to tighten their purse strings and do without. Unlike state employees and many who work in municipalities throughout New Jersey who will be facing furloughs, no such requirement was placed on the three cities.

?Today?s decision is a slap in the face of taxpayers and towns that struggle and juggle to balance their budget, while three cities are given assistance that sustains their mismanagement,? stated Polistina. ?We?ve read too many stories about audits that reveal a lack of fiscal control and rampant overspending in cities that seek special assistance.

?In District 2, where Assemblyman Amodeo and I serve, state aid decreased by an average of 8.2 percent in each municipality between 2007 and 2008, while property taxes increased an average of 5.4 percent. No one can convince me that those towns aren?t distressed, as well, yet they will end up supporting the additional assistance these three towns receive,? said Polistina.

In recent months there have been media reports of costly school construction projects in Paterson and Camden; an inability of state auditors for three consecutive years to assess Camden?s financial condition because it records were in such disorder; overtime paid to a private security company whose contract didn?t provide for overtime payments in Paterson; and spending $3 million to restore the facade of the old Camden High School which would be included as part of the construction for the new school currently being built.

?Taxpayers in every municipality are hurting, but somehow the state has managed to identify a few that deserve special assistance,? remarked Amodeo. ?It isn?t right that at a time when everyone in New Jersey is concerned about their future that some people are called upon to shoulder a greater burden than others. A history of incompetence and wasted spending shouldn?t entitle any town to additional aid. What kind of message does that send to the other municipalities throughout the state??

The Board?s decision comes on the heels of yesterday?s testimony by Legislative and Budget Finance Officer Dr. David Rosen before the Assembly Budget Committee that tax revenues will fall $600 million less than anticipated over this year and next. Based on estimates from the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services (OLS), revenues for Fiscal Year 2009 will be $383 million lower than Governor Corzine estimated, and $223 million less for Fiscal Year 2010.

?It is unfathomable that the state is telling taxpayers that they have make do with less, and that further belt tightening may be needed, yet somehow this administration can find the financial resources to reward these cities,? continued Amodeo.

?While state employees and those in many municipalities throughout the state are being furloughed to reduce expenses, no such stipulation was made in order to receive these funds. What criteria were used to arrive at this conclusion? This decision should alarm all taxpayers who ultimately pay for this award,? concluded Amodeo.


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