Update on Trust Fund Raid
Posted by Kevin Walsh on August 7th 2012
Municipalities have until August 13, 2012 to tell the Christie administration why their trust funds shouldn’t be taken. As the governor prepares to complete his raid of municipal housing trust funds, the courts and the Legislature are responding to the rightful outrage at the governor’s actions.
We learned this afternoon that the Appellate Division will consider our request to enjoin the raid on the trust funds on an expedited basis. We argue, in a brief available here, that the court should do so because the decision to take the money was not made by the independent board of the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH). In March 2012, the Appellate Division invalidated Governor Christie’s reorganization plan that abolished COAH and later denied the governor’s request to stay its decision. The Supreme Court likewise denied the request to stay. Despite those denials, the Christie administration has been acting as if the reorganization plan remains valid and in effect. Without holding a meeting of the board, the administration set policy that will help it take the money and has demanded municipalities hand over $142 million with the barest of justifications. The administration has likewise refused to discuss whether the board will meet prior to funds being taken, claiming that such a question is premature.
In an order issued this afternoon, which is available here, the court directed the state to file its papers at 10 a.m. on Thursday morning. It is possible that we will have a decision from the court at the end of this week regarding whether to permit the process of taking the funds to continue without the trust fund issues being presented to the board.
The Trust Fund Raid is also going to be the subject of a hearing before the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee tomorrow at 2 p.m. in Committee Room 16, 4th Floor, State House Annex. A newswire story indicates DCA officials may be present, so this may be your last chance to show up and ask DCA Commissioner Richard Constable how he calculated how much money your town owes and why he is working to take money from non-profits that are ready to build.