View Full Version : Property Tax Relief

01-24-2007, 02:02 PM
I was wondering what people's thoughts are on Property Tax Reform. Are we ever going to get there? The income tax was introduced to combat property tax - we see where that ended up helping. The politicians keep coming up with schemes that they claim will reduce property taxes. It seems as if people don't want to make the hard choices. The politicians don't want to give up their dual office holdings, the unions hold NJ hostage with their pensions, towns refuse to consolidate and many politicians are afraid of offending the special interests. Corzine said "Be bold', "If people aren't screaming, then you haven't gone far enough". Well people did start screaming and CORZINE was the first to back down - namely to the Unions (no secret he had an affair with the union president and bought a house with her). Until New Jerseyans wake up and really look at what their representatives do and ask - "do they really work for the best interest of us?" - we will never have an efficient government that works for New Jersey. We will never have property tax relief.

Senate clears one bill in package as others idle

The state Senate approved a bill yesterday to create a commission to study the merger of some towns, but at the end of the day, a political stalemate forced Democrats to defer action on other critical pieces of property tax reform that had been posted for votes.

‘‘Another day of nothing gets done,’’ Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R-Monmouth) complained as he left the Senate chamber.

Meanwhile, Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex) deferred his planned introduction of the centerpiece legislation of the property tax reform effort: a bill to give most New Jersey homeowners a 20 percent credit against their property taxes while limiting annual increases in those taxes to 4 percent.

A summary of the bill Codey now plans to introduce later this week shows the credits would be applied only to the first $10,000 of the tax bill. That means the maximum credit would not exceed $2,000. Most homeowners with household incomes of $250,000 or less likely would receive a credit of between $800 and $1,100. There will be no credits for households with annual incomes greater than $250,000.

The limits on tax increases, or caps, will allow exceptions for some situations. The bill would force arbitrators in union contract disputes to take the caps into account, and would authorize local officials to require employees to chip in for the cost of their health benefits.

The bill also would allow local officials to seek a voter override of any budget increase denied by the state. Such an override would require a super-majority of 60 percent.

The Senate spent nearly as much time yesterday honoring the Rutgers football team for its 11-2 season, and best-ever No. 12 national ranking, as it did voting on legislation.

Senators swiftly moved forward on the bill to establish a commission to study which towns and school districts ought to merge to save money. It passed 35-2, after it was amended to, among other things, include regional representatives on the panel. The Assembly must agree with the Senate changes.

Kyrillos, an original sponsor of the bill (S12), said the intent was to create a panel modeled on the federal military base closure and realignment commission, that would have decision-making authority and could compel mergers. The amended bill only allows the panel to make recommendations.

‘‘I have a lot of concern that we are allowing this special moment in time to do something dramatic — yes, even revolutionary — to pass,’’ said Kyrillos, who voted for the measure in spite of the shortcomings. ‘‘We are not living up to that challenge.’’

A vote in the Senate on the bill to create an office of state comptroller was stymied when Democrats couldn’t muster a majority of 21 votes from within their 22-member caucus.

Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) was absent and Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex), an original sponsor of the bill, has refused to support the amended version. The changes have ‘‘emasculated’’ any real authority the original bill gave the comptroller, she said, adding that the new comptroller would have less authority than the current state inspector general.

‘‘I just hope we don’t squander an opportunity,’’ Buono said. ‘‘I have a lot of respect for the governor and my colleagues, but this was watered down.’’

Codey said Democrats were not to blame for yesterday’s delay because all 18 Republican senators refused to vote for the bill and allow it to move back to the Assembly for concurrence.

‘‘All but one Democrat was willing to vote for the comptroller today,’’ Codey said. ‘‘Are you going to blame the Democrats but not the Republicans? Is good government only the responsibility of the Democrats? Hello!’’

Sen. Leonard Lance (R-Hunterdon), the minority leader, said Republicans were not opposed to the comptroller bill, but wanted to keep Senate Democrats from watering down the stronger, Assembly-passed version.

The Senate also approved unanimously a bill that would strip public officials of at least part of their pensions if they are convicted of a crime involving their public service. It would apply to pension credit earned in the office where the violation took place, but any pensions from other government jobs would be left intact.

The bill (S14) also requires jail sentences for government workers convicted of corruption.

‘‘This vote represents our choice to stand up for taxpayers and against corruption,’’ said Sen. John Adler (D-Camden), a sponsor.

On another ethics bill, Republicans failed in a parliamentary maneuver to force the Senate to consider a measure to ban the practice known as pay-to-play at all levels of government. The bill failed to win enough votes to be released from committee, where it has been bottled up by the Democratic leadership.

The effort by Sen. Peter Inverso (R-Mercer) to release the bill, which bans state contractors from contributing to political campaigns of state lawmakers, fell two votes short of a 21-vote majority when only Sen. Ellen Karcher (D-Monmouth) would join the 18 Republicans casting ‘‘yes’’ votes. The 20 other Democrats did not vote at all.

Meanwhile, Sen. Sharpe James (D-Essex) said he planned to reintroduce legislation that would ban law makers from holding two elected offices at one time.

James retired as mayor of Newark last year after serving for 20 years, including six of his seven years in the state Senate. The first bill he introduced when he arrived in the Senate in 1999 was a ban on dual office-holding.

01-24-2007, 02:18 PM
Instead of our representatives working on REAL property tax relief, they pussy foot around with eliminating Veterans Day, Washington & Lincolns Birthday and other holidays from the school curriculum.

On this subject, Corzine’s firm: Veterans deserve their day
Governor vows to veto bill altering public school curriculum

Saying ‘‘our kids (should) understand the sacrifices people have made,’’ particularly when soldiers are dying in Iraq, Gov. Jon Corzine yesterday promised to veto part of a bill abolishing a state mandate that schools provide instruction on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

The bill also would do away with laws requiring schools to teach lessons on Commodore Barry Day and Arbor Day. However, Corzine said nothing to indicate he cared about keeping them in the school curriculum.

Corzine brought up the bill while speaking yesterday morning on NJ101.5 radio. He said a conditional veto was appropriate at a time ‘‘when our men and women are putting their lives in harm’s way.’’

‘‘Sometimes in the enthusiasm to do things, we sometimes trample on fundamental principles and concerns,’’ Corzine said, apparently referring to the Legislature’s swift passage of the bill.

The bill, passed unanimously last month, was intended to help control property taxes by eliminating costly state educational mandates.

Corzine spokesman Anthony Coley said the governor ‘‘has not indicated’’ his position with regard to Commodore Barry Day or Arbor Day.

‘‘His primary concern was about the bill in relation to veterans,’’ Coley said. ‘‘The administration heard from a lot of people.’’

Barry, an Irish-born Revolutionary War hero, is considered the ‘‘Father of the U.S. Navy.’’ His birthday (September 13) has been a required part of New Jersey’s school curriculum for 60 years.

Arbor Day was invented in 1872 by a member of the Nebraska Board of Agriculture who advocated planting trees once a year in the Great Plains. The idea soon spread. In this state, Arbor Day is observed on the last Friday in April.

Besides taking on Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Barry Day and Arbor Day, the bill addressed other holidays — Lincoln’s Birthday, Washington’s Birthday, Columbus Day and Thanksgiving — and said teaching them was optional.

‘‘Rather than mandating activities to commemorate holidays, this bill would permit school districts to conduct exercises and instruction,’’ a statement attached to the bill said.

Bill sponsor Sen. John Adler (DCamden) has said the bill was not intended to slight veterans or their sacrifices.

The measure drew the ire of many veterans’ groups, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. They argued that Memorial Day and Veterans Day should remain mandated school curriculum.

It also irritated members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish Catholic fraternal organization that counts Commodore Barry Day as one of its four official holidays. Barry played an important role in New Jersey, fighting under George Washington at the battles of Trenton and Princeton, they said.

Yesterday, veterans groups seemed mollified by Corzine’s remarks.

‘‘We’re very pleased that he’s feeling the way he is,’’ said Ray Zawacki, a Vietnam War Navy veteran and department adjutant for the American Legion of New Jersey. ‘‘Apparently he’s listening to his veterans’ constituency and shares our concerns.’’

Corzine enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves after graduating from college in 1969. He remained in the reserves until 1975, rising to the rank of sergeant in his infantry unit.

A conditional veto allows the governor to object to parts of a bill and propose changes.

If the Legislature passes the bill incorporating the governor’s recommendations, it can be presented again to the governor for his signature.

How do they think that any of this is REALLY going to bring down property taxes? What really upsets me is the elimination of Washington's Birthday - without him we would still be under the British. Without him as the first president, we have ended up with a dictatorship. It's important for students to understand WHY we celebrate the holidays we do, nto that they are just some date on the calendar.

01-24-2007, 02:34 PM
The tax cap that got poked full of holes
Tom Moran may be reached at tmoran@starledger.com or (973) 392-1923.

Two weeks ago, Gov. Jon Corzine threw down a tough challenge to legislators. He would not sign any property tax reform, he vowed, unless it included a 4 percent cap on the growth in tax revenues. ‘‘I can’t emphasize this enough — the 4 percent cap is absolutely critical,’’ he said in his State of the State speech. He didn’t waffle. He didn’t hedge. This was the macho governor sounding like General Patton ordering his tanks into battle. Well, he has changed his tune. In an interview in his office this week, he acknowledged for the first time that those tax increases are likely to be higher than 4 percent — maybe much higher. Democrats in the Legislature have spent the last three weeks poking so many holes in the cap that schools and towns will barely notice it.

There is an exception for health costs, and another for pension costs. Energy and insurance costs can be exempted as well. If you run into extra costs because you built a new school, that’s not covered either. And so on.

So what does Governor Patton have to say?

‘‘You have to be realistic,’’ he said during the interview. ‘‘We might not get property taxes going up just 4 percent, but we’ll get them going up something less than 7 percent.’’

If you listen carefully, you can hear the death rattle of property tax reform. Because this is exactly where previous efforts have failed.

Trenton can relieve the pressure by boosting rebates or pumping more money into towns and schools. But if local spending keeps rising by 7 percent a year, property taxes can’t be far behind.

Democrats know that. And they’re finally starting to admit it.

‘‘Can I stand here and predict that taxes won’t go up 7 percent next year?’’ asks Assemblyman John McKeon. ‘‘Probably not. It’s going to take several years for this to show up economically.’’

Several years. Chew over that one. If taxes continue to rise at 7 percent a year, the 20 percent credit that Democrats have in mind will be absorbed within three years. We’ll be right back where we started.

If this makes you want to scream, or pull your hair, or shoot someone, that’s perfectly understandable. These guys promised us something better.

But in the end, the cap was smothered to death by the status quo in Trenton. The scrap that survives will cover wages and little else.

Corzine and McKeon note some of the exemptions are temporary and that, after a few years, the growth in spending should settle down. But what kind of dolt would believe that this Legislature will not again yield to pressure?

If you dig into this one, at least two problems help explain this meltdown.

One is the power of the blob — that collection of special-interest groups that protect the status quo in Trenton against any reform. The unions, the mayors, the school boards, the county executives — they all hate the idea of a tough cap, and they all carry weight in Trenton. (The blob killed pay-to-play reform this week, too.)

The other problem is even tougher. We haven’t yet faced the reality that cutting property taxes will require sacrifices. Most of this money is spent on real people: the teachers who instruct our kids, the cops and firefighters who protect us.

One beauty of a strict cap is that it would force us to face that choice. What if your schools ask to exceed the cap? Do you want lower property taxes badly enough to fire a few teachers? Maybe not.

Now we won’t know. Because as long as schools and towns stay under this permissive cap (which most are certain to do), voters will never have a say. That’s part of this reform, too.

It’s too early to give up all hope. Corzine hasn’t agreed to all these exceptions yet, and he said he will conditionally veto the bill if the Legislature is too permissive. Maybe he’ll find his Patton voice again.

But don’t bet on it.

01-24-2007, 07:18 PM
Don't count on any relief any time this year! I for one DONT trust any of those boneheads in Trenton!

Impeach Corzine
02-11-2007, 10:52 PM
As unsurprising as the sun setting in the west, New Jersey politicians for years have done absolutely nothing to address sky-high property taxes in the Garden State and have not seemed interested in making any attempts either. The only time there is any talk about the matter is when an election looms; but as soon as the polls close, discussion of property-tax reform ends. The situation is no different today and New Jersey residents still face the highest per-resident property tax burden of any state in the Union double the national average. When politicians refuse to address something that clearly is a problem and are willing to let the problem fester, it can mean only one thing: Those politicians don’t fear the voters.

As fear of being voted out of office is the only way to ensure that politicians are responsive to their constituents, it is incumbent upon New Jersey voters to let their representatives know what is expected of them and to make clear to them that their continuation in office is dependent on what they do between now and election day to meaningfully address punishing property-tax levels. The Silver Brigade, a property tax reform group in New Jersey, is starting to get out that message. Last week the group sent letters to the party leadership in both the state Assembly and the state Senate that paint the picture of a voter revolt against incumbents if there is no action on the property-tax reform front. This week, letters will be sent to select local legislators, too.

Of course, the voters have to do their part and draw a line in the sand. Rebates and other tax-shifting schemes are no substitute for capping annual property-tax increases and reducing state spending by, among other things, renegotiating state employee contracts. If Trenton comes up with nothing more than rebates or a tax trade before the June primaries or the November generals, voters need to show incumbents the door.

If they don’t or if they simply replace the tired old bums with a set of sprightly new bums, the cost-of-living in New Jersey will continue to spiral upward and the vestiges of the middle class that are rumored to still exist in the state will completely vanish.

It’s all up to the voters. Good government always is.

04-25-2007, 10:36 AM
Whatever happens with the property tax, it will be too late for my parents. My father taught school for 30 years and when he retired, paid health insurance was not part of his package.

He owned his home and was proud of the hardwood floors he laid himself in 1954. It was on 3 acres of land in rural Hunterdon County.

The taxes kept rising every year and eating more and more into his pension, until they were 1/3 of his net income. Health insurance took another large portion. They could no longer afford to live in the state they called home for almost 60 years. They sold their home and moved to SC.

So much for the teacher who educated many NJ students, and served on the board of education in another township for 20 years.

Taxes forced them to leave--the next time they see NJ will be for their final journey. Sad isn't it?

06-02-2007, 07:19 AM
There are two tax reform groups that are gathering steam in NJ - one is Americans for Prosperity www.afpnj.net which is based somewhere around central or north jersey and Liberty and Prosperity www.libertyandprosperity.org which is based around atlantic county. One of them sponsors a local atlantic country radio show that is on weekday afternoons - forget the station.

06-30-2007, 04:14 AM
Hi JD, At one time I felt that maybe there would be some relief for the high taxes. There was much discussion about it and Corzine made it clear that propery tax relief was an absolute priority. That was back when he was taxing everything except the air we breathe. I am not sure what happened but property taxes were put on the back burner and Corzine and Katz were all the buzz. I read somewhere , I think in the Tribune, that Corzine was thinking that the tolls should be leased out but how that would help property taxes I don't know.. Besides I do not think that is a good idea because the toll fees would go up. The property taxes are going to remain high for some time in my opinion. My own son cannot afford them until his car is paid off. It is a good thing he is happy where he is.
It is ridiculous for people to have to leave NJ because they are being taxed out of their homes. Like Irishblueyes was saying, her dad had to leave a home he built many yrs ago because the taxes just kept going up. It is a disgrace, especially for the elderly, many of whom have moved from their homes into apartments. And what about young people with families?
I really don't think tax relief is in the near future. It is a shame and I wish I felt more positive about this. I am being realistic. It takes time to build affordable homes and get people into them. It could take years to really help enough people that way. The property taxes are just a big huge problem.

07-05-2007, 12:07 PM
They better give us Tax relief, or at least change the New York Giants to the New Jersey Giants.

Don't expect relief anytime soon, though. I think the governor still wants to make a few more people declare bunkruptcy.

07-05-2007, 01:38 PM
Hi Director598, Did you happen to notice in New Jersey Monthly how many people left New Jersey last year because of the property taxes? It was something like 75,000. That is a lot of people. They find it cheaper to live in Pennsylvania. How unfortunate that New Jersey is losing the middle class, only the wealthy can remain and the poor cannot afford to leave.
For that reason the property taxes have to addressed. Gov Corzine was all fired up at first about tax relief but it only applied to a certain group, namely those who earned less then 100,000 a year. It seems to have died out. Marianita

07-05-2007, 01:52 PM
Actually Corzine used bate and switch. When push came to shove he did nothing about tax relief, unless you consider raising our taxes by 7% and adding taxes on items that were previously tax exempt.

What is required for REAL tax relief, the politicians don't want to do - such as consolidation of our 566 municipalities. The other thing that needs to be done is instead of subsidizing New York's economy by spending billions of our tax money to bring workers to New York, we should be spending that money to attract businesses to our cities and use that money for OUR public transportation needs.

07-05-2007, 10:57 PM
Hi JD, I agree with you as to the partial solution to the property tax situation but is there a chance that it will happen? One of these days there will only be very wealthy there and very poor if the middle class is gone. Corzine has not done a thing to take care of the property tax. There are ''affordable'' homes being built but what is ''affordable'' anyway? They are still a lot of money.
That is a good suggestion to find ways to attract people to New Jersey, new businesses. It might work but would take time. Well, we'll see. Marianita