UCCF 4/19/18: Church Getting County Money

2018-319: Authorizing the County Manager, through the Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, to reallocate funds received from the NJSCA to Union County agencies and organizations. Proposals were evaluated by a professional review committee and funding levels we re recommended by the arts grant committee of the Cultural & Heritage Programs Advisory Board which were subsequently approved by the entire Advisory Board. The total amount of the grant received is $144,813 and of this total $65,000 will be reallocated to 32 agencies and organizations to present or produce high quality arts activities.

That New Jersey Supreme County decision was in a case in Morris County and went in part:

The state Supreme Court has ruled that Morris County’s long-standing practice of giving taxpayer-funded historic preservation grants to churches violates the New Jersey Constitution.

Wednesday’s 7-0 ruling, written by Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, reverses last year’s lower court decision. The ruling now precludes churches from benefiting from the 16-year-old historic preservation grant program because it violates the Religious Aid Clause of the state Constitution.

“The plain language of the Religious Aid Clause bars the use of taxpayer funds to repair and restore churches, and Morris County’s program ran afoul of that long-standing provision,” Rabner wrote.

The ruling does not require grants to be returned to the county, including those made in the past two years. It does bar churches and other houses of worship from being recipients in the future.


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