On September 26th in a case involving the City of Trenton, the New Jersey Supreme Court overruled the Cuprowski decision as it applied to public referendums. The Court adopted the plain language of N.J.S.A. 40:69A-185 providing voters of Faulkner Act municipalities the right to subject any ordinance to referendum unless exempted by State Statute. The Court is most likely to apply the same “plain language” rule to citizen initiatives as well. Although the Court did refer to local budget ordinances as being exempt from referendum, it clearly referred to annual budgets which are held in suspension for 20 days and not to budget cap laws which are effective in advance of any annual ordinance being passed.
We have always believed our case, decided on September 13th by the Appellate Division, met the standards for appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court, both as an issue of substantial public importance, and having sufficient potential for impacting legal precedent. The reason we initially decided not to appeal after the Appellate Division’s decision was because we were aware that the odds of even a good case being accepted for review were not in our favor. We did not wish to cause more taxpayer dollars to be spent by our local government in its fight against the taxpayers. However, the September 26th ruling by the N.J. Supreme Court in the Trenton case changes those odds.
Taking a case all the way to the top Court in the State is always an uphill struggle. We wish to thank our many supporters, both the thousand signatories of our petition and those who contributed generously to our legal fund after the Knight Administration decided to prevent a citizen referendum by filing suit against us. We know that many of you were disappointed when we initially decided not to appeal the Appellate Division’s decision. We will now by this appeal to the N.J. Supreme Court receive for all of you the final answer.
Taxpayers do not forget. All this could have been avoided if either of two things had happened:
If the Knight Administration had allowed the question to be decided by the voters of Ocean City, or
If the City Council had enacted the Taxpayer Protection Ordinance as did the municipality of Bogata, New Jersey. That ordinance has been successfully in effect for several years without incurring any of the “chaos” they are trying to scare you with.
None of this is for free. We need those of you who have stood with us before to do so again and if you haven’t donated before please consider doing so. Send your contributions, payable to Fairness In Taxes Legal Fund, P.O. Box 565, Ocean City, NJ 08226-0565.
Committee of Petitioners:
John Bryson (deceased)
Submitted by James Tweed, Coordinator for the Committee