Republican legislators are once again assailing the Local Finance Board and the way that body allocates state monies, after its members moved unanimously to provide the City of Newark with an additional $45 million of emergency aid last week.
“It is astounding that the state can find the money to allocate to a city that already receives more than its fair share of state aid while it squeezes rural municipalities to pay for its police coverage and slashes property tax relief,” said Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose in a statement, who represents Trenton mayor and part-time Hunterdon County resident Douglas H. Palmer in the Assembly.
The Special Municipal Aid program, under which several economically-distressed municipalities receive additional state aid each year, has been the repeated target of Republican attacks of late.
The GOP legislators claim the program, administered by the Local Finance Board in the Department of Community Affairs, operates in a rather unaccountable manner, without published criteria for selecting cities and without, until recently, a uniform application for municipalities seeking extra aid.
According to the office of Sen. Steve Oroho, R-24, the City of Newark received over $1 billion in state and municipal aid this year, and has received over $8 billion in aid over the last decade.
Sen. Oroho plans on introducing legislation to “impose oversight and accountability” in the program.
“This program has operated under the radar, without accountability, criteria, application standards or even an application form for far too long,” said Sen. Oroho, in a statement. “The bill I will introduce in September and the proposed resolution, SR-61 will help to prevent these abuses in the future.”