U.S. News

NJ Gov: make cities' aid hinge on cuts, performance

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hundreds of millions of dollars of state aid for cities, towns and villages in New Jersey should depend on them meeting performance targets, the administration of Governor Chris Christie said on Thursday.

The proposal for a Best Practice checklist issued by the state’s Department of Community Affairs covers a wide range of subjects from whether municipalities have multi-year financial plans to if they put limits on public workers’ wage hikes.

“Each municipality will need to meet an established percentage of the checklist items in order for all or part of your last State Aid payment to be released,” Lori Grifa, Commissioner, Department of Community Affairs, said in a letter that was publicly released.

For the full checklist, please see: here.

A number of the changes sought by the Republican governor’s administration could require the legislature’s consent.

The legislature is currently controlled by Democrats but their majority may prove vulnerable in the November elections.

Lawmakers have spurned some of Christie’s earlier proposals to restrain the payroll costs of cities and towns. For example, the governor proposed allowing cities and towns to opt out of the civil service, whose safeguards on discipline and the like were devised to shield public workers from political meddling.

One way Christie closed an $11 billion deficit in the current budget was by reducing aid for municipalities by $446 million, according to the treasurer’s spokesman.

Reporting by Joan Gralla; Editing by Andrew Hay