HP QuickTakes – May 2016: Gun violence, e-cigarette license, unfunded mandates

Stemming gun violence becomes a municipal priority.

Highland Park Mayor Gayle Brill Mittler is urging Highland Park residents to step up and become involved in stemming the epidemic of gun violence in society today. Mayor Brill Mittler and Highland Park resident Karen Canter, chair of the Middlesex County Chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, invite all residents to an inaugural/organizational meeting of the Middlesex County Chapter of the Brady Campaign on May 31, 7 p.m., Highland Park Borough Hall, 221 South Fifth Avenue. The Brady Campaign is working with the Million Mom March to accomplish its goals.

“I am not saying guns should be banned totally. I see no violation of the Second Amendment by requiring a gun license process as stringent as the driver’s license process. Children in this country are dying because of gun violence, and we in Highland Park, as responsible citizens, need to get involved,” said the mayor.

For more information contact Karen Kanter at middlesexmmm@bradymail.org


Borough Council approves licensing of e-cigarette establishments. 

Highland Park Borough Council at its May 17, 2016 council meeting approved an ordinance that requires e-cigarette vendors to obtain a license that will cost the e-cigarette retailer $600 annually.

The purpose of this ordinance is to license establishments that sell electronic smoking devices. The funds collected by licensing of such establishments shall be used to fund the development and maintenance of a Tobacco Age of Sale Enforcement Program and other smoking cessations, prevention and control programs. The license year is Jan 1 through Dec. 31 of the year for which a license is issued. The fees for all initial licenses issued to a licensee pursuant to this section shall be an amount proportionate to the number of months remaining in the License Year including the month in which the license is issued. This ordinance shall take effect on July 1, 2016, following adoption and publication in accordance with law.


Unfunded state mandates prompt budget concern, but no solution.

The Highland Park mayor, council president, school superintendent, plus members of the Highland Park School Board recently met with state legislators to discuss the fiscal impact of unfunded mandates on residents in the municipality. Mayor Gayle Brill Mittler arranged the meeting.

“The legislators were concerned and spent a lot of time with us – more than an hour – but no one could promise any relief at the current time,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Scott Taylor.

During a meeting with NJ State Senator Patrick Degnan and Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin, Highland Park Mayor Gayle Brill Mittler, Council President Susie Welkovits, School Superintendent Dr. Scott Taylor and members of the school board, including Board President Darcie Ciramusti, Finance Chair Mark Krieger and Board Member Rob Magaziner presented challenges the school and community face because of unfunded mandates.

An unfunded mandate is a statute that requires local government or public organizations to perform an action, but provides no money to help fulfill the requirement. Over the past several years, these state-imposed mandates have crippled the financial wellbeing of many community schools. Particularly burdensome for the school district this year have been expenditures resulting from Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) testing and special education student transportation costs.

Both Assemblywoman Pinkin and Senator Diegnan were supportive of increased funding for the schools, but noted the difficulties of finding sources for additional funding under the current administration. They expressed interest in working with the municipality and school to find a solution to the financial crisis.

See the following NJ Spotlight stories on the state of New Jersey’s finances for a better understanding of why Highland Park’s efforts to get more state support for unfunded mandates will go unheeded at the current time.




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