By David Madden

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — A cap on arbitration awards to municipal police and fire personnel in New Jersey has been extended for another 3½ years.  The measure is just one of the bipartisan efforts aimed at keeping the state’s real estate taxes in check.

There are some changes in the rule.  Arbitration awards can now be compounded annually, and an arbitrator has 90 days (instead of 45) to render a decision.

Gov. Chris Christie was joined by Democratic leaders in the legislature and more than five dozen mayors from across the state as he signed the extension into law.

“Over the past several years we’ve worked hard to slow down what represents the highest property taxes in the nation,” Christie said.  “We’ve seen progress in terms of these historic efforts, and we have further to go.”

In the last three years, police salaries have gone up an annual average of 1.86 percent, the smallest increase in two decades.

This bill is set to expire at the end of 2017.