Like many condominium and homeowners associations in New Jersey, the 70 or so common interest community associations in the City of Long Branch were unaware that they were entitled to reimbursement for certain municipal services – such as the costs of snow removal, trash collection and street lighting – that they provided to their members out of their annual budgets. Unaware, that is, until recently… On June 13, 2006, the Long Branch City Council authorized reimbursement of over $100,000 to condominium owners in the City for snow removal and street lighting services. This amount represents the costs of these services incurred by these 70 associations from 1996 through 2006.
Pursuant to the Municipal Services Act, N.J.S.A. 40:67-23.2 to -23.8, every municipality in New Jersey is required to either provide certain services to each qualified private community within its borders and common elements or reimburse the common interest community for these services, including the removal of snow, collection of trash or recyclables or lighting of roads and streets. The purpose of the Municipal Services Act is simple – eliminate double taxation of common interest community association residents, as many of these services are paid for by residents through their maintenance fees and condo fees. As discussed more fully in one of the seminal cases interpreting the Act, Briarglen II Condo. Ass’n, Inc. v. Township of Freehold, 330 N.J. Super. 345, 353 (App. Div. 2000), the Appellate Division determined that the legislative intent of the Act was to “help eliminate double payment for some services which the residents of qualified private communities now pay through property taxes and fees to their association.”
Although the Municipal Services Act went into effect in January of 1993, many qualified associations fail to take advantage of having their municipality provide these services – or the reimbursement for them – simply because they are unaware that they are entitled to them. This means countless associations in the state – like those formerly unaware in Long Branch – may be entitled to significant reimbursements that could be used to free up other funds for capital contributions and reserves, necessary repairs, or long-overdue improvements to their communities.