TRENTON, New Jersey - August 6, 2008 - Small towns that will soon have to pay for their State Police patrols hope that drivers who break the law, and not local taxpayers, foot the bill.
Senator Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, is proposing a $40 surcharge on all motor vehicle violations and using the money - estimated at $160 million - to help municipalities pay for police.
Half of the money would pay for the State Police Rural Patrol Program, which provides full-time and part-time police response to 89 small towns across New Jersey. The other half would be distributed proportionally among municipalities that have full-time police departments.
Municipalities that used the money for something other than police would be barred from funding for two budget years.
Senate Majority Leader Stephen M. Sweeney, D-Gloucester, supports the legislation.
Assemblymen Nelson Albano and Matthew Milam, both D-Cumberland, have sponsored companion legislation.
"There is absolutely no way these smaller, rural towns can take this kind of hit and not increase property taxes," said Van Drew, whose district includes five towns that got an estimated bill from the state's Treasury Department last week. "I'm trying to find a solution and this bill is a first step in that direction."
"From our residents' perspective, this legislation makes sense and is the fairest way to do it. Have the folks that are breaking the law pay for it," said Mayor Ed Zimmerman of Rocky Hill Borough, Somerset County, which uses the State Police.
A $40 surcharge on a ticket is very expensive, especially in today's economic climate, said Steve Carrellas, the chapter president. He dismissed Zimmerman's argument that the surcharge would affect only lawbreakers.
"It doesn't work that way. Everybody gets a ticket for something along the line," said Carrellas, who noted the surcharge could double traffic ticket fines for technical violations that aren't blatantly dangerous. "It's creating another opportunity for some towns to grab statewide money for their own problems instead of finding real solutions to their high property taxes."
Ed. Note: All this will do is give the JBTs more incentive to issue more and more tickets. This is called "pillage" and is the point in the story where Robin Hood starts shooting the Sheriff of Nottingham's men.