Middletown claims bail reform law is unfunded mandate imposed by state

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MIDDLETOWN — The members of the Township Committee have unanimously passed a resolution that will result in a complaint being filed by Middletown with the state Council on Local Mandates in regard to a bail reform law which Mayor Tony Perry says is an unfunded state mandate that is costing local taxpayers more than $100,000 annually.

The committee members took the action during a meeting on Jan. 17

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“This has become an outrageous display and no one at the state is paying attention to this issue,” Perry said.

According to the website state.nj.us, “the Council on Local Mandates, which is independent of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of state government, was created pursuant to the ‘State Mandate, State Pay’ amendment to the New Jersey Constitution, approved by voters in November 1995, and an enabling statute, the Council Statute, that became effective in May 1996.

“The council has the exclusive constitutional authority to rule that a state law, rule, or regulation imposes an unconstitutional ‘unfunded mandate’ on boards of education, counties, or municipalities.

“Under the Constitution, if the council so rules, the ‘unfunded mandate’ in the law, rule or regulation ceases to be mandatory in effect and ‘expires,’ ” according to the website.

Since the enactment of a bail reform law several years ago, motor vehicle thefts and associated crimes in Monmouth County have increased by 40%, with more than one-third of the individuals who are arrested and released rather than being held in detention going on to commit the same type of crimes again. 

“We have a choice as to whether or not we want to be a nation and a state of laws or whether we want to be a nation and a state of chaos,” Perry said.

According to municipal officials, Middletown has been forced to increase police patrols and to significantly increase expenditures to combat the surge in auto thefts and associated crimes that statistically correlate with the enactment of the bail reform law.

Since bail reform was enacted by state lawmakers, Middletown’s taxpayers have been forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars of costs associated with combating and investigating auto thefts and associated crimes on an annually recurring basis, according to municipal officials. 

The bail reform law has put an undue burden on the township and state officials have not authorized resources to offset the additional direct expenditures required for the implementation of the law, the resolution states.

With the filing of the complaint, Middletown officials are asking the Council on Local Mandates to determine if this action amounts to an unfunded mandate.

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