Profile: Head of League of Municipalities Stepping Down After Four Decades

But Bill Dressel isn’t really moving on -- he’s staying in New Jersey, and hopes to keep working on policy issues facing the Garden State

bill dressel
Name: Bill Dressel

Title: Executive director of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities

Age: 66

Lives: In Robbinsville with his wife.

Why he matters: He is the point man dealing with issues affecting the state’s 565 municipalities, lobbying legislators, policymakers and governors for the past 20 years as executive director of the organization on behalf of local governments. He plans to retire in July after spending 41 years at the league.

Biggest issue facing towns: ‘’It is the same as when I got here. We have the most regressive tax that is — the property tax. It’s the number one issue facing municipalities and the league for the past 40 years.’’

Can it be resolved: “It is going to require a commitment from the governor and the Legislature. Unfortunately, that time has not yet come. We nibble around the edges. We continue to kick the can down the road. It’s political dynamite because there is always an upcoming election.’’

Is New Jersey heading in the right direction: “It is hard to tell. Many of the concerns we had 40 years ago are the same today. I am concerned that we can be a player in the decision-making policies, but I do have faith that we will deal with the white-knuckle issues.’’

Biggest accomplishments: Buying the historic Roebling Mansion at 222 W. State Street as the league’s new headquarters in 1997 and helping to enact the state mandate/state pay law, which requires the state government to pay for any new programs that impose a financial burden on municipalities.

What he will miss most about his job: “The relationships with the elected officials and my staff. I generally believe any elected official is in it for the right reason. To this day, I’m in awe of what they are trying to do to improve the quality of life of their residents.’’

What he likes most about New Jersey: “I love this state because it is so diverse geographically and people really give a damn about it.’’ He has no plans on leaving the state once he leaves his job, hoping to continue to work on policy issues. “My allegiance is to the state. I’m in it for the long run.’’

What he would change about the state: “I would ask the governor and the Legislature if local elected officials have more of a role in setting policies. I believe in home rule and self-determination. I would like a recognition that we are a true partner in governing.’’

Biggest frustration: “Sometimes the Legislature can dictate its views to local governments. It is frustrating they don’t keep in mind the direct impact on local governments and taxpayers.’’

Background: He earned a bachelor’s degree from Elon College in North Carolina and a master’s degree in public administration from West Virginia University.

How he relaxes: Running and exercising on spinning bikes at indoor recreational facilities.

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