In this paper, I am going to summarize two articles that appeared in NorthJersey.com and am also going to discuss the public policies these articles are related to.
Pay-To-Play Law Under Scrutiny
Pay-to-play in politics means that those who make political contributions to public or party officials or political parties, receive in return political or monetary favors, such as no-bid government contracts and appointments to political posts. In this article, the author examines this rule. The Pay-to-Play Ordinance of the borough of Fair Lawn which was passed in 2006 states that public contracts to service providers who make contributions to political parties is forbidden (Pay-t0-Play Ordinances). In this article, the author states that the Borough Council of Fair Lawn is in the process of deciding whether it can prevent those people who have contracts with the borough government from making political donations to organizations. The issue being debated is whether some donations to the Bergen County Democratic Organization (BCDO) can be declared illegal. It was found that four companies that have no-bid contracts with the borough gave a lot of donation to the “Victory” accounts of the Bergen County Democratic Organization after the ordinance was passed in 2006. According to the Council members, the BCDO and the Victory accounts are the same thing; therefore, this donation is illegal. A council member traced money transfer between the BCDO and Victory accounts.
However, the Democratic Party members denied accepting any donations after the ordinance was passed. The council has also asked the Borough Attorney to find out whether two companies that had government contracts – the law firm belonging to the borough prosecutor and the accounting firm of the borough made donations to the BCDO in 2006, thus violating the ordinance. The BCDO states that it received these donations in August and September 2006, which is about two months after the ordinance was passed. In response to this, the Mayor has asked the officials to find out whether the check was written, mailed, and posted before or after June 27, 2006, the date when the ordinance was passed.
State Agency Taking Steps on Efficiency
The state of New Jersey has 566 municipalities along with 486 local authorities and special districts. The administration system of these has a lot of redundant features and is plagued with inefficiency. All of these have led to an increase in the property tax in the state. It was felt that sharing administrative services with other municipalities and districts would lower the expenditure and would lead to reduction in property tax. An Act was introduced in the Assembly of New Jersey in 2006, which was called the Uniform Shared Services and Consolidation Act (Smith, Bob & Wisniewski, John S.). Another bill was introduced in the Assembly in 2006 on Municipal Efficiency Aid Program. According to this law, municipalities that meet certain criteria of efficiency would be rewarded with additional monetary aid. This amount would be used by municipalities only to reduce the amount they raise by property tax for municipal purposes (Assembly, No. 50 ).
In this article, the author states that a program has been started by the government to assess the efficiency of the municipalities of New Jersey. From the results of this program, a more effective approach to shared services would be devised. This would affect the amount of funding that the state gives to each town. The amount of money a town spends on law and order, public works, and how efficiently would determine the aid it receives. On a discussion on this law, a Republican states that Democrats are pushing this issue to consolidate their power in the county. He is of the opinion that shared services should start at county and state level, and not at municipality level. However, the Mayor of Ridgefield is of the opinion that shared services will not succeed in reducing the property tax burden significantly. He says people will support shared services only if it succeeds in reducing property tax bills by 10 percent. However Senator Gordon feels that shared services definitely has a role to play in reducing property tax.
Akin, Stephanie. (December 3, 2008). Pay-To-Play Law Under Scrutiny. North Jersey.com. Retrieved December 5, 2008 from http://www.northjersey.com/news/bergenpolitics/35453969.html
Gartland, Michael. (December 3, 2008). State Agency Taking Steps on Efficiency. North Jersey.com. Retrieved December 7, 2008 from http://www.northjersey.com/news/bergenpolitics/35454264.html
Pay-to-Play Ordinances. (2007). State of New Jersey. Department of State. Retrieved December 7, 2008 from http://www.nj.gov/state/secretary/ordinance.html#2
Smith, Bob & Wisniewski, John S. (December 1, 2006). Government Consolidation and Shared Services. Retrieved December 6, 2008 from http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/PropertyTaxSession/OPI/jcgo_final_report.pdf
(June 8, 2006). Assembly, No. 50, State of New Jersey, 212th Legislature. Retrieved December 7, 2008 from http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2006/Bills/A0500/50_I1.HTM