The Bergen County Freeholders on Wednesday voted to seek a court order directing the state to reimburse the county for the special election to replace the late U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg. In a unanimous vote, the freeholders directed their attorney to file a “declaratory judgment action” in Hackensack Superior Court contesting the cost of the Oct. 16 election, as well as the Aug. 13 primary. It’s estimated that the two elections would set the county back $3.6 million. David Ganz, the board’s chairman, said the elections would tip the county over the state’s mandated 2 percent property tax cap to recoup costs, creating a “financial emergency” in Bergen County.
“Let us be clear that a declaratory judgment is different from a traditional lawsuit, and we are not looking to sue the state for damages,” Ganz, a Fair Lawn Democrat, said late Wednesday. “All the freeholders are looking for is an assurance that the state will reimburse the county before the end of the year so that Bergen County taxpayers will not be forced to foot the bill.”
The resolution asks the superior court to rule on whether the state has the authority to declare a special election just 20 days before the general election, and to direct the state to reimburse the county for costs incurred by holding the two elections.