Bergen County Officials Vow To Maintain Blue Laws
By Mel Fabrikant Tuesday, March 23, 2010, 08:26 AM EDT
In a move that surprised many people, Governor Christie yesterday presented his state Fiscal Year 2010-11 budget with an anticipated $65 million in sales tax revenue derived from lifting the ban on Sunday shopping in Bergen County. Bergen is the only county in the state that maintains the ban. Bergen County Executive Dennis McNerney, Senators Paul Sarlo and Robert Gordon, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, Sheriff Leo McGuire, Freeholders James Carroll, Elizabeth Calabrese, Bernadette McPherson, David Ganz, Paramus Mayor James Tedesco, and Maywood Mayor Tim Eustace attended a rally at the Bergen Town Center in Paramus to voice their disapproval with the Governor’s budget announcement.
“This is a terrible, terrible proposal,” said McNerney. “Repealing the Blue Laws would lead to more traffic on our highways and side streets.
The Governor is asking our residents to sacrifice their quality of life just to generate more sales taxes for Trenton. Bergen County needs property tax relief, not road congestion.”
State Senate Budget chairman Paul Sarlo said that he will hold the first Senate budget meeting at Bergen Community College in Paramus so Bergen residents would be able to voice their opinions about repealing the long-standing prohibition. The state budget must be adopted by July 1, 2010.
“The Blue Laws increase our quality of life, which has a direct effect on our high property values,” said Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge). “I will not let either our property values or quality of life diminish from this proposal.”
Senator Gordon echoed the sentiments that repealing the Blue Laws would come at a tremendous cost to the quality of life in Bergen County.
“Time and time again, the residents of Bergen County have overwhelmingly rejected efforts to lift the Sunday shopping ban,” said Gordon (D-Fair Lawn). “It provides a much needed day of reprieve from the flood of traffic that clogs our roads from morning to night. Some may argue that opening stores on Sunday will bring in additional revenue, but $65 Million seems overly optimistic and will come at a tremendous cost to the quality of life of Bergen residents.”
McPherson said that the Freeholder Chairman Carroll would introduce a resolution that clearly delineates their opposition to the Governor’s plan, while McGuire noted that shopping on Sundays would put a strain on municipal first responders.
“If the malls are open on Sunday, there will be a need for more local police, more local EMTs, and costs will rise,” said McGuire. “This plan is just shifting costs to our local communities.”
Tedesco expressed his outrage at the proposal in blunt terms.“I have just four words for the Governor,” said Tedesco. “Over my dead body.”
PHOTO ID From Left to Right: Bergen County Freeholder Elizabeth Calabrese, Bergen County Freeholder David L. Ganz, Senator Paul A. Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge), Bergen County Freeholder James M. Carroll, Bergen County Sheriff Leo P. McGuire, Bergen County Executive Dennis McNerney, Paramus Councilman Richard A. LaBarbiera, Maywood Mayor Timothy J. Eustace, Senator Robert Gordon (D-Fair Lawn).