More than 125 local elected officials from mostly rural New Jersey towns signed up to attend a meeting Thursday night to demand that the state continue to pay for State Police services in rural communities without police departments. The meeting came a month after 89 towns received a prospective bill in the mail from the state Department of the Treasury, detailing what they would owe the state in order to keep receiving State Police response to calls for police service. The towns have until Dec. 15 to make a decision about staying with the State Police or making other arrangements, reports the Asbury Park Press.
The state has paid for rural coverage since 1921, when the force was established. But Gov. Corzine has said it’s time for rural towns to help pay the cost because of the state’s financial situation and because taxpayers in municipalities with their own police departments shouldn’t have to fund police services in rural communities as well. Under the state budget, the towns must contribute $12.6 million toward the overall $80 million the state says it costs to provide the rural police services. Instead of basing the prospective charge on police calls, the state based it on the number of residential and commercial lots. So towns are facing prospective charges of up to $657,000 annually.