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TRENTON, N.J. - When Gov. Jon S. Corzine's bare-bones state budget ended free state police protection enjoyed by rural areas since the 1920s, towns didn't raise much ruckus over the new fees.

That was before 89 municipalities recently got billed $12.6 million for state police patrols, sending local officials into sticker shock.

Now, a South Jersey senator wants to alleviate the financial strain on rural communities by funding their state police protection with traffic ticket surcharges.

"I don't believe it will help the non-rural municipalities to raise taxes in the rural municipalities," said Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, the bill sponsor. He said the only way for most towns who rely on state police patrols to pay for the service is to raise local property taxes.

"We're not going to help anybody by increasing taxes to certain communities," he said.

Van Drew's bill would impose a $40 surcharge on all motor vehicle violations to defray the costs of providing local police services.

The bill, introduced in June and referred to the Senate Transportation Committee, would create two funds. One would allocate $5,000 to $1 million in grants to cities and towns that have their own police departments. The other would be used to help pay for full- and part-time state policing in rural communities.
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