Rochelle Park mayor wonders when the towns will get their money back from the state

TRENTON – Rochelle Park Mayor Joe Scarpa wondered aloud if the Comprehensive Municipal Property Tax Relief Act funds – or CMPTRA for short – would ever be restored.

Over the past two years, Scarpa said his tiny Bergen County town has lost $300,000 in CMPTRA funds, between both Christie and former Gov. Jon Corzine.

He said it’s a little misleading for the state to say it balanced its budget. The money that was used to do that, he said, was actually money that was supposed to go to municipalities.

“That money was specifically earmarked to go to towns,” he said while attending the state League of Municipalities Mayors’ Legislative Day on Wednesday at the State House.

“Instead of giving back what was rightfully ours, the money was used for the state budget. It was on the backs of the towns.”

COMPTRA funds generally make up the largest portion of state aid given to municipalities.

Last year, Scarpa said he had to lay off employees, full-time workers became part-time workers, and some had their health benefits eliminated.

Despite all the cost-cutting, he still had to raise taxes by $100 for the average-assessed home of $235,000.

Rochelle Park is a 1 square-mile town with a population of about 5,600 residents. While the town shares several services with neighboring Paramus, including a public works superintendent, gasoline purchases, garbage collection and recycling, he said merging with a neighboring town is off the table.

“I’m not going to eliminate my town,” the Republican mayor said. “Besides, there is no evidence that making anything bigger is more efficient.”

"I’m excited as hell about CD 5. We have encouraged Congressman [Steve] Israel to get involved in CD 5."
—Democratic State Party Chairman John Currie