Mayor Bencivengo Fights for Restoration of State Aid for Hamilton
In response to state budget reductions that would short-change Hamilton of energy revenue that should be provided to the Township, Mayor John Bencivengo wrote Governor Chris Christie last week, seeking the reinstatement of this revenue that has been earned by the community.
Explaining the source of the revenue, Mayor Bencivengo wrote in his letter:
The Energy Tax Receipts revenue is not “aid” or “assistance” from the State Government to municipalities, but rather replacement revenue that municipalities previously collected directly. The State Government assumed collection of these revenues in order to redistribute them back to local municipalities, while at the same time, retaining a portion of this revenue to fund State programs.
Over the years, the Township has earned higher energy revenues than many towns across New Jersey because of the PSEG facilities locate in Hamilton. Like any other home, property or business, the Township is responsible for providing services to such utility facilities within the community.
The Mayor believes the State’s reduction of energy revenue would be the equivalent of Hamilton Township keeping portions of property tax payments that Hamilton collects for the other, separate governments through property taxes:
When Hamilton Township collects revenue for the Hamilton Township Public School District, Hamilton Township Fire Districts and Mercer County Government, we [the Municipal Government] must distribute all (or 100%) of the collected revenue back to these separate governmental entities. Yet when the State of New Jersey collects Energy Tax Receipts for municipalities, the State is able to keep a portion of municipalities’ revenue to balance the State budget.
Recognizing the extent of the financial situation that the State of New Jersey is facing, Mayor Bencivengo offered to meet with Governor Christie or the State Treasurer to discuss ways in which energy revenue owed to towns can either be restored or others ways this reduction of this revenue can be offset by communities, like Hamilton.
Mayor Bencivengo summarized in his letter:
…as the Mayor and representative of the over 92,000 residents of Hamilton Township, I must advocate to ensure that our community’s property taxpayers do not shoulder an unfair or inequitable burden through the proposed State Aid Replacement Revenue reductions.