Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, R-Bergen and Passaic, said it is imperative that the Legislature begin to discuss a bill introduced today that would make the interest arbitration law permanent. The current law is set to expire on April 1st.  Schepisi is a primary sponsor of the new bill and said allowing the current law to sunset would have disastrous consequences on towns and property taxpayers.

Schepisi noted that the average property tax gain for 2013 was 1.7 percent, showing the importance of interest arbitration reform. In 2011, the average bill went up 2.4 percent, and in 2012, the increase was 1.6 percent — a contrast between 2004 through 2006, when the bills went up at least 7 percent each year.

“We have seen the impact on property taxes before the arbitration cap was enacted and the positive results since the law took effect in 2011,” said Schepisi. “Arbitrators now have guidelines to follow which are not merely suggestions. The interest arbitration law is necessary for municipalities to control costs which benefits property taxpayers. The law should be made permanent.”

Yesterday, the Final Report of the Police and Fire Public Interest Arbitration Task Force was issued and detailed the importance of the new law.

“The data contained in the task force report unquestionably shows the interest arbitration law works,” stated Schepisi. “The law brings the parties together to negotiate a fair contract or let an arbitrator follow the law and make a decision.”

From January 2011, when the law took effect, to September 2013, average raises in contracts, whether through arbitration or negotiations, were 1.86 percent — the lowest in at least 20 years. Schepisi noted that the task force report, which studied the effects of the law since its inception, said the cap has been the single most significant tool in stabilizing municipal budgets.