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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Legislature contemplates reigning in municipal spending

Trying to get more control over municipal spending could be made easier if legislation being drafted by Assemblyman Michael Dougherty gets support from the legislature, which would put major bond issues and appropriations by municipalities or counties to a referendum vote.

“The debt that is incurred by county and municipal governments must be repaid by the local property taxpayers in those jurisdictions,” said Doherty, R-Warren and Hunterdon. “Just as state taxpayers have a constitutional right to vote on any debt issued by the state, so too should local taxpayers who will bear the burden of repaying local debt issued by these governing bodies.”

Assemblyman Dougherty's amendments to the current local bond law statutes would make a requirement of any normal bond ordinance that the measure be submitted to voters at the next possible election as part of the ballot.

Officials said that while state debt continues to haunt all of New Jersey, many state residents facing the highest property taxes in the country are paying part of their tax bill because of uncontrolled municipal and county spending.

State bond issues, on a massive scale, are normally put to the voters for passage, and Assemblyman Doughtery's measure would change that.


Trenton Police Director Joseph Santiago was nowhere to be found when a serious fire broke out under a downtown parking garage and caused major power outages to residences in the western parts of the city Friday.

Mr. Santiago had presumably left on his hour and a half commute back to Morris County, according to police sources, on his way back to where he lives outside of Trenton and outside of the city's residency law requiring all employees to maintain their primary residence inside the city.

Curiously enough, Mr. Santiago couldn't be in Trenton for an important public safety issue, but he was back on the job at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, reporting a car accident on Route 29 to Trenton Police dispatch.

Maybe if he lived in Trenton, he could have been around for both emergencies.

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