Return energy-tax funds
to N.J. municipalities
Gov. Chris Christie's proposed budget continues the trend of no increase in aid to municipalities. Flat state aid sounds good, but it amounts to a decrease. With rising costs, the job of local officials is not getting any easier. The fact is that more taxpayer money goes to Trenton and less returns.
Even though Christie and lawmakers have enacted the 2 percent cap on municipalities, state spending went up by nearly 7 percent in the last state budget and would go up again by nearly 4 percent for the 2014 proposed budget.
Meanwhile, local municipalities have been forced to reduce services to residents. We need property-tax relief, not just aid.
Withholding energy-tax money from municipalities and the unfunded state mandates continue to be a burden on property taxpayers.
One way to provide immediate property tax relief would be for the state to return more of the money collected in lieu of property taxes from the utility and energy companies, rather than diverting it to the state's general fund. Local elected leaders, from all municipalities, need to join together to demand the return of local taxpayers' money.
Galloway Democratic Club
FEMA must finalize
•ew flood maps sooner
Why will it take the Federal Emergency Management Agency so long to finalize the new flood maps? FEMA has been working on them for almost two years and will not introduce final maps until September.
Many of us are in a constant state of anxiety and frustration resulting from fighting with FEMA for flood insurance money to which we are entitled, submitting Small Business Administration loan applications to get money FEMA is cheating us out of, and scrutinizing contractors to ensure we are not being ripped off. FEMA's inaction and delays only add to our anxiety and frustration.
The released "advisory" flood maps have pushed many of us over the edge. The "V" zone designation requires us to raise our homes to 15 feet and place the homes on piles. But they tell us the maps are preliminary and may change. What do we do in the interim? Do we raise our houses? If so, to what height? Will we have to place it on piles? Will the piles have to be driven, or can we use the helical piles? All of this is contingent on the final maps.
The "V" zone designation means our homes may be hit with a three-foot wave. We all know this is highly unlikely. We all know our damage was caused, not by velocity, but slowly rising tidal waters. The fact that we all know this and FEMA does not, and its inability to create maps for more than two years, does not give us any confidence that FEMA's final flood maps will ease any of our anxiety.
Is anyone asking FEMA why it cannot finalize these maps more quickly? Is anyone telling FEMA its delays are affecting peoples' lives? Get these maps done now.
Tim Kreischer is a former Ventnor mayor.
Make fathers support
children out of wedlock
A Feb. 16 Associated Press article appearing in The Press said that President Barack Obama had called for intensified efforts to promote healthier family environments by removing financial disincentives to marry and reforming child-support laws in hopes that children will grow up in stable homes with responsible fathers in the picture.
Given the steadily evolving breakdown of traditional families in the United States, his message was right on point. Hopefully, he will now ensure the necessary follow-up to make this happen.
A key first step in this direction might well be for the president to press for requiring the identification of all fathers siring children out of wedlock and holding them responsible for their support.
Little Egg Harbor Township
Many target shooters
use AR15 'assault' rifles
Politicians everywhere are clamoring to pass new laws banning semi-automatic firearms such as AR15 rifles, which they claim no legitimate sportsman uses. I am not sure where they got their definition of legitimate sportsman. I have been a competitive target shooter for more than 20 years and have been using legal variations of the AR15 for all of that time. Thousands of registered rifle competitions are held nationwide every year, and the AR15 is the most commonly used rifle in these competitions.
The AR15 has been sold since the late 1960s and functions like every other semi-automatic in existence - one shot per trigger pull. The media say they are killing machines, but a common hunting shotgun is far more lethal than any semi-automatic rifle at close range. A rifle with a large magazine may have the ability to shoot many bullets before reloading, but a common hunting shotgun shoots many projectiles with each pull of the trigger. The media are fixated on some semi-automatics because they do not look like traditional hunting guns and therefore are the easiest target. Hunters nationwide should understand this and join the fight for our rights during this battle, or their hunting guns will surely be the anti-gun crowd's next target.
So-called assault-type firearms account for only a small fraction of the guns used in crime. I welcome the discussion on how to best fix our problem with crime in this country, but banning a certain type of firearm over another and blaming law-abiding gun owners is not the answer.
different from 'marriage'
Regarding the Feb. 26 letter, "Gay marriage should be legalized":
The letter writer believes that gays should have the same rights as heterosexuals. I agree. They should have all the same rights under the law. However, their union should not be considered a "marriage" since it is not performed in a church or religious setting.
Marriage, defined as being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband and wife, is historically a religious term. It is a religious sacrament and mostly performed in religious settings or by religious leaders.
Only couples having their ceremonies in religious settings should be considered married. If gay (or straight) couples have their ceremonies in non-religious settings, then they should be considered civil unions, but with all the same rights under the law as marriage. It is different, so it should be called something different. Gays would have the same rights under the law. They would be equal. But their unions would have a different title.
Leave the definition of marriage alone. Most people believe in God. Where do you think most of our laws come from? Majority rules.
Egg Harbor Township