July 26, 2014Connors, Rumpf & Gove
Over the past several years, there have been several attempts by members of the State Legislature to expand Trenton's ability to further regulate and interfere with the operations of our senior communities. This is not to say these efforts were not undertaken with good intensions. Regardless, the various versions of legislation introduced have all contained aspects that, in our opinion, would have a detrimental impact on senior communities and their residents. These include the establishment of homeowner fees, the creation of new State government bureaucracies including an office of an ombudsman and the collateral costs for taxpayers that inevitably are associated with new bureaucratic functions.
Since the introduction of the Common Interest Community bills, our Office has remained a consistent conduit for information regarding status changes, amendments and any other significant developments. Together, we have worked hand-in-hand with senior communities in our Legislative District to block legislation from reaching the Governor 's desk. Up to this point, we have been successful. This is due largely to the thousands of petitions, letters and E-mails written by actively engaged residents who have demonstrated to the Legislature and the Governor, in no uncertain terms, the intense level of opposition that exists to empowering Trenton with greater oversight of their communities.
Considering New Jersey's dismal financial condition and the failure of its bureaucracy on so many levels, Trenton is in no position to tell senior communities, which operate far more effectively than the state, how they should run themselves. More to the point, it would be completely irresponsible for the state to take on more bureaucratic responsibilities when it can 't pay for the services it is already tasked with providing. Furthermore, residents are unable to shoulder any greater tax burden.
For these and other compelling reasons, we remain fearful that the idea of establishing fees for homeowners of associations could be resurrected as a means of paying for a new government bureaucracy. The potential certainly exists for legislation to be passed without a fee in order to minimize initial opposition. Then, at a later date, a fee could be established either through further legislation or even in budget language. Should this happen, there are additional concerns to consider. Our state is notorious for siphoning off the money generated through fees for other-than-intended purposes. Numerous examples can be cited whereby critical funds were raided by the state including those established for emergency management, unemployment, the Homeowner Warranty Program and property tax relief. It would be naive to assume this would not be the case with homeowner fees for senior community oversight.
While our collective efforts have been successful thus far, it is important to remain vigilant as there are organizations that still have an active interest in advancing common interest community legislation as part of their own, separate agenda. For our part, we will continue to monitor any pending Common Interest Community legislation, including the introduction of any new legislation. Communities will continue to be notified by our office of any significant developments. As always, we actively solicit input from constituents on this issue. Our ability to more effectively represent the best interests of our Legislative District is enhanced when more individuals participate in the legislative process and public discourse.
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