Now that the legislature is back in session, all eyes are focused on Trenton as the debate over Governor Christie's "Mayor's Toolbox" begins in earnest.  The 33 bills contained within the "toolbox" are critical to give local governments the ability to cut spending that they are legally unable to do now.  It is imperative that the legislature act quickly to implement these essential reforms.  Unfortunately, it appears that resistance is growing to many of the bills from special interest groups that have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, regardless of how damaging it is to those who pay local property taxes.  These special interests appear oblivious to the current economic crisis the country is facing.

The only hope that residents of New Jersey have to cut the state's highest in the nation property taxes is to allow their local officials to cut their budgets, get reasonable concessions from the unions, have significant pension and benefit reform and remove education funding from the backs of local property owners.  The people of New Jersey simply cannot afford to subsidize a system that has grown way too big and way too expensive.  Many residents, if they are lucky enough to still have a job, have often had to accept a pay cut or a pay freeze, contribute 30% or more to their health care, and fund their own retirement through a 401k or similar plan.  It is time for government to be brought in line with the private sector and Governor Christie's reforms will allow local officials to do just that.

Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger

Middletown Township