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NJ Chamber Roundtable BreakfastState Treasurer Andrew P. Sidamon-Eristoff takes questions from New Jersey Chamber members at the N.J. Chamber Roundtable Breakfast on March 12, 2013. For more photos from the breakfast, click here.

Businesses affected by Superstorm Sandy should file for federal aid as soon as possible, state Treasurer Andrew P. Sidamon-Eristoff said during a New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Breakfast Roundtable yesterday.

Officials have said that businesses that do not file for FEMA or SBA disaster assistance by May 1 will no longer qualify for Superstorm Sandy federal aid.

The treasurer gave similar advice to towns that face the prospect of property tax hikes because of damage to businesses and homes in the storm. These towns should apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency funding to help close their deficits, Sidamon-Eristoff said.

"We believe federal resources are far and away the best, most viable option for these towns," Sidamon-Eristoff told Chamber members.

In January, the state's Division of Local Government Services estimated that up to 15 New Jersey municipalities could lose at least 10 percent of their tax bases and another ten could see a drop of 5 percent to 10 percent.

The treasurer also gave Chamber members a "lightning tour" of Gov. Chris Christie's proposed $32.9 billion state budget for fiscal year 2014 – and he touted the Christie administration's continuing efforts to reduce business taxes and contain property taxes.

The proposed budget includes the continued phase-in of the five business tax reform initiatives the New Jersey Chamber has long championed: a single sales factor formula for determining Corporate Business Tax liability; providing a net operating loss carry forward for small businesses; reducing the minimum tax on S-corporations; fully funding the Research & Development Tax Credit; and phasing out an energy tax called the Transitional Energy Facility Assessment.

These initiatives are geared towards the goal of growing jobs and strengthening the economy, the treasurer said.

Meanwhile, the treasurer shared good news regarding property taxes. The 1.4 percent rise in average residential property taxes in 2012 was the lowest since 1991, and for the first time, property taxes rose by a smaller percentage than the 2 percent cap on local tax growth enacted by Gov. Chris Christie and lawmakers in 2010.

"The cap 2.0 is clearly working," the treasurer said. "The average increase is the lowest in 20 years."

The treasurer also praised the merger of Princeton Borough and Princeton Township, which he said has already produced savings that has outpaced projections and will help contain property taxes. To help pave the way for the merger, the Christie administration pledged financial support to the newly merged town to help it through its first year, he said.

"If Princeton can do it well, we can hold that up as an example for everyone," Sidamon-Eristoff said.

"So far so good," he added. "This gives us leverage when we make the (consolidation) argument to other towns."

Thank you to Raymond James for sponsoring the breakfast.

To view photos, click here.