N.J. towns press for more of $1 billion state-collected energy tax

Municipal officials in New Jersey say the state is not giving them their fair share of money from an energy tax.

The state collects about a billion dollars a year from the energy tax that New Jersey towns impose on power companies in exchange for having utility lines and plants in their communities. For several years, the state has been keeping a greater share of that money.

East Windsor Mayor Janice Mironov says that’s causing hardship for local governments.

“This is a huge issue for towns. One that would have dramatically positive impacts on municipal services, on municipal property taxes for our taxpayers,” she said.

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Mayors want the local share of the energy tax revenue to be restored to 2007 levels so they’d get about $330 million.

Fanwood Mayor Coleen Mahr says not giving local governments their fair share is adding to the property tax burden.

“Instead of losing $500,000 this year, if I received what was rightfully mine, my overall 2012 budget would probably be 15 percent less, and my residents would experience this elusive property tax relief which they hear about but have not really seen or felt yet,” Mahr said.

Senate Budget Committee chairman Paul Sarlo, D-Bergen, says he’ll introduce legislation to gradually phase in a return of more of the money to towns with the provision that it’s used to help reduce the property tax levy.

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