The 9th District Delegation announced today it will be introducing legislation that would require the state to reimburse municipalities for the cost of municipal police protection and emergency services performed by a municipality on State roads that run through the municipality. The amount of reimbursement provided under the legislation would be based on a formula which considers the total number of miles of State roads contained in the municipality.
Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblyman Daniel M. Van Pelt are in the process of drafting the legislation in response to several towns within their District being notified by the State that rural municipalities will begin to be charged for State Police services. Letters sent by the State Treasurer?s Office to affected towns included the amounts that must be paid for the continuation of such services. Towns within the 9th Legislative District that will be impacted include Eagleswood Township in Ocean County, Folsom Borough in Atlantic County and Bass River Township in Burlington County. Under the recently adopted FY 2009 State Budget, $12.5 million was cut from State Police for patrolling services.
?Forcing rural and suburban municipalities which rely on State police patrols to begin paying for these services is an outrageous and unfair attempt to skim money from the property taxpayers of those communities while the same services are being provided to other communities, such as Camden and Irvington, for free,? said Senator Connors. ?To be fair, the State should be reimbursing municipalities for the police and emergency services they provide on State roads that run through their borders. We fear the State Police issue is just the beginning and is yet another example of poorly conceived policies that adversely impact residents of rural and suburban areas. There is a common thread whereby services directly benefiting rural and suburban towns are being put on the chopping block or deliberately underfunded. This includes the recent attempt to eliminate the Department of Agriculture, the proposed reduction of aid for small municipalities and insufficient school aid for growing rural and suburban school districts that unjustifiably continues to be sent up north and to Abbott districts.?
Assemblyman Rumpf went on to say, ?Mayor Ballistreri of Folsom has been out in front on this issue from the start and has provided our Delegation with information as to the impact on small municipalities such as Folsom. In fact, the Borough of Folsom has already received notification from the State that it will be assessed more than $88,000 for State Police patrol services. This comes at the same time that, according to the Mayor, there has been a serious decline in the services provided which has resulted in diminished revenue for his town. It is our understanding that there was supposed to be a dialogue between the State and affected municipalities.& nbsp; Instead, notices of payments due were issued without any such promised dialogue and these towns ended up being blindsided.?
Assemblyman Van Pelt said, ?Since time and memorial these municipalities were provided State Police services. Conveniently, the State seems to have turned a blind eye to the fact that in 1921 the State Police was created to patrol rural areas because of the lack of existing local police departments in these areas. If the State refuses to recognize this and continues to abide by changes made to this policy, which has been in place since before the Great Depression, then it should be the right of municipalities to be reimbursed for identical services provided on State roadways.?