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Property tax battle: Deadline looms on expiration of key law


Property tax battle: Deadline looms on expiration of key law

TRENTON — Mayors say a group with an obscure and achingly bureaucratic name has been the most important tool in slowing the growth of New Jersey’s property taxes, the highest in the nation.

For the last three years, arbitrators who decide contract disputes between towns and their police and fire unions — known collectively as the Interest Arbitration Task Force — have been limited to increasing the workers’ salaries by just 2 percent.

But if the Legislature doesn’t act by April 1, that limit will expire. That would leave towns constrained by a 2 percent cap in overall tax increases but with less control over how much to pay police officers and firemen.

“We’re playing a little Russian roulette here,” said Bill Dressel, executive director of the League of Municipalities. “We could see arbitration awards potentially exceed the 2 percent cap that would put a stranglehold on municipalities to the extent that they would have to cut services.”

Gov. Chris Christie in his January State of the State speech called on the Legislature to make the cap permanent. (Friedman/Star-Ledger)