Following Gov. Chris Christie’s scheduling of a Special Election to fill a vacant U.S. Senate Seat, the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders has unanimously passed a resolution that would direct its legal counsel to file a declaratory judgment action in Hackensack Superior Court contesting the cost of both the primary and special election.
The freeholders estimate that the two special elections will cost the Bergen County taxpayers $3.6 million. In order to protect and safeguard the County from these unanticipated costs the Freeholders demanded assurances that all costs will be borne by the state of New Jersey and repaid by year’s end. The freeholders sought the measure so they would have the assurance that the Governor would promptly repay more than $24 million statewide for these elections.
The Bergen County freeholders became the second county governing body, after Union, to enact such a resolution.
“Today’s bipartisan action of the Freeholder board is only meant to protect Bergen County’s taxpayers,” said Freeholder Chairman David Ganz. “We understand the financial obligation of the county to outlay the cost of the special election, but if the state does not pay in time, it will cause Bergen County to exceed the 2% property tax cap which we are not authorized to do and cause a financial emergency in the county.
“Let us be clear that a declaratory judgment is different from a traditional lawsuit, and we are not looking to sue the state for damages,” Ganz added. “All the Freeholders are looking for is an assurance that the state will reimburse the county before the end of the year so that Bergen County taxpayers will not be forced to foot the bill.”
The resolution asks the Superior Court to declare: 1) whether there is authority to set a Special Election twenty (20) days before the General Election; 2) that the state of New Jersey must reimburse Bergen County for all monies expended for the Primary and Special Election within the 2013 calendar year; and 3) any and all other arguments that Counsel deems necessary to afford relief to the taxpayers of Bergen County.