Faced with an estimated budget shortfall of nearly $3 billion in January, New Jersey will start charging small municipalities for a service they have enjoyed free since 1921: regular state police patrols that help communities without police departments respond to crime, car accidents, and other emergencies, reports Stateline.org. The plan – a version of which also is being considered in neighboring Pennsylvania – has infuriated many of New Jersey's small-town officials. Shocked by the nearly $13 million that the state seeks from 89 municipalities for the patrols, the officials say small communities can't afford to pay the state without hiking property taxes substantially.
“The state has been paying for (patrols) for many decades, and now they're reneging on that commitment. We feel that that is an unfunded mandate,” said William G. Dressel Jr., executive director of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities. New Jersey officials say it is a matter of fairness. About 96 percent of New Jersey residents pay taxes for both state police and local police forces, so the 4 percent that relies exclusively on the state should pay for the extra patrols they have been receiving for free, said a state treasury spokesman.