The New Jersey Business & Industry Association supports legislation designed to provide property tax relief by better facilitating cost-saving shared services agreements, joint contracts and consolidations among local governments and school districts.

The bill, S-1, sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3), is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee this afternoon.

“State and local property taxes make up over 40 percent of the taxes paid by businesses in New Jersey, which is why controlling property taxes is an important issue for business owners as well as homeowners,” said NJBIA Vice President Andrew Musick.

“New Jersey’s highest in the nation property taxes are in large part due to its 565 different municipalities and nearly 600 public school districts, each with its own bureaucracy and employees, that could save taxpayers considerable money by sharing services or consolidating,” Musick said. “Making New Jersey affordable and competitive requires proactive efforts, such as this bill sponsored by Senator Sweeney, and co-sponsored by Senators Bucco & Singer, to help bring property taxes under control.”

The legislation would modify two state laws enacted in 2007 to make these statutes more effective in encouraging and facilitating shared services, joint contracts and consolidations: the Uniform Shared Services and Consolidation Act and “Local Unit Alignment, Reorganization and Consolidation Commission” (LUARCC) law.

Among the changes authorized by the bill, is the relaxing of Civil Service provisions and tenure rules that now delay or impede efforts to pursue tax relief through shared services agreements or consolidations involving the merging of local bargaining units.

Update (4:33 p.m.): The committee voted 9-0-2 to release the bill.