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Thread: New Jersey Property Taxes

  1. #1
    New Jersey Ambassador Admin & Founder JerseyDevil's Avatar
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    Default New Jersey Property Taxes

    Okay, everyone complains about property taxes, but why do they keep going up? Why aren't people willing to do what is necessary to bring property taxes and what do people really think is necessary?

    Property taxes soar 29% in 4 years
    Corzine says reform won't come easily
    Sunday, January 15, 2006
    BY TOM HESTER AND JOE DONOHUE
    Star-Ledger Staff


    Four years ago this week, James E. McGreevey stormed into the governor's office after campaigning on a bread-and-butter issue that tickled weary homeowners: cutting property taxes.

    Today, the average tax bill in New Jersey is 29 percent higher, according to a new Star-Ledger analysis that also puts last year's increase at 6.3 percent. That means the average tax bill during McGreevey's four-year term, the last 14 months of which was finished by Richard Codey, climbed $1,309 to $5,867.

    On Tuesday, Democrat Jon Corzine takes office as governor with a pledge to boost property tax rebates and ask lawmakers to devise a long-range solution to an issue that has bedeviled New Jersey for decades.

    "I understand why the public is inflamed," Corzine said. "We have the highest. It really is the problem that people say it is."

    The governor-elect said he remains committed to his campaign vows: "rebates, in the short term, while we get our tails in gear to deal with real reform."

    He said, however, that his call for long-term solutions may not come in the opening weeks of his term, which he says will focus on replenishing an almost bankrupt fund for road and rail projects and solving the state budget crisis.

    Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts (D-Camden) said property tax reform should be the Legislature's singular focus. "It has to be done this term," Roberts said, "and I believe we have to start on it almost immediately."

    He won't get a quarrel from retired chemist John Dyer, 71, and his wife, Jennifer, 65, who don't know how long they can hold out after watching their property taxes rise 350 percent in the 27 years they have owned their home in Randolph.

    "So many of our friends had to leave the area because they could not afford to pay the property taxes," Dyer said.

    AVERAGE BILL UP $350
    The Star-Ledger analysis found property taxes rose an average of $350 last year as taxpayer rebates to nonseniors were sliced by at least $400 because of the state budget woes. The inexorable climb in property taxes prompted angry homeowners to tell candidates this was their top priority during last year's gubernatorial campaign. There were good reasons:

    The Star-Ledger analysis found property taxes rose an average of $350 last year as taxpayer rebates to nonseniors were sliced by at least $400 because of the state budget woes. The inexorable climb in property taxes prompted angry homeowners to tell candidates this was their top priority during last year's gubernatorial campaign. There were good reasons:

    • Ninety-six of the state's 566 cities and towns were rocked by average tax hikes of more than 10 percent.
    • Forty-four towns had average property tax bills topping $10,000 -- eight more than in 2004. Six years ago, just three municipalities could claim that distinction.
    • Five counties -- Bergen, Essex, Hunterdon, Somerset and Morris -- had average tax bills exceeding $7,000. Bergen, with $7,859 average bills, is highest.
    • Plainsboro residents were hardest hit, with a 27.9 percent increase -- an average hike of $1,691.
    • Property taxpayers shelled out a total of $19.5 billion last year -- an increase of more than $1.1 billion.


    Corzine, like governors before him, vows to beef up property tax rebates that have been mailed to residents for three decades. The governor-elect, however, has said he wants to call a special session of the Legislature -- and then a constitutional convention -- to find a permanent solution.

    Across the state, people are tracking property taxes and government and school spending like avid baseball fans track batting averages.

    In search of lower property taxes, Dick Clair, 70, a retired human resources manager, and his wife, Michele, 60, last year sold the home where they lived in Morris Township for 25 years and moved 33 miles to Andover Township, Sussex County. He cut his property taxes by $4,000, to $7,000.

    "We could no longer afford to live in Morris Township," Clair said. "We are both retired. We had to sell assets to pay the damn property tax."

    "Taxation should be based on ability to pay, on household income, not on the paper value of one's home," he said. "The present system seems to unfairly shift the burden from corporations and the wealthy to the low- and middle-income homeowners and taxpayers."

    In Liberty Township, Warren County, stay-at-home father William VonderHarr, 40, started a citizens group when he suspected there was little official oversight on spending in the school district his community shares with Independence Township.

    VonderHarr and his wife, Lisa, 37, an accountant, paid $8,500 in property taxes last year, a $300 increase from 2004. He said Corzine must attack government and school spending as part of any effort to lower property taxes.

    "To me, he has to focus on spending," he said. "Shifting (to other taxes) does not seem to make any sense. You will get a couple of more rich guys to pay a few extra dollars."

    NO SIMPLE SOLUTIONS
    A day after he is inaugurated, Corzine is expected to address the State League of Municipalities, which is pressing for a tax convention where the ultimate decision on property taxes is made by voters.

    "I am not expecting the Legislature to solve this problem alone," said William Dressel, executive director of the league. "Nothing will get done in this politically charged environment until they engage the taxpayers. Taxpayers are sick and tired of the rhetoric."

    Codey said he hopes limits on school spending he enacted last year will stem the increase in property taxes, but noted the huge expense of paying for education and local services isn't going to vanish.

    "Nobody's going to come down from heaven and wipe away the burden of paying for all these costs," Codey said. "The best you can do is have a more equitable distribution of who pays and how much. And when you do that, if in fact you do that, you are going to get a heck of a lot of people mad at you."

    For example, last week, Assemblyman Louis Manzo (D-Hudson) made a push for a bill to reduce school tax bills by an average of $1,500. But to get that savings, he would require a surcharge on income taxpayers.

    From his house in Andover Township, Clair said he wants property taxes reduced, but understands this won't be an easy one for the new governor.

    "Corzine has got some real headaches ahead," Clair said. "I hope his wine bar is well stocked."

    Staff writers Robert Gebeloff and Josh Margolin contributed to this report. Tom Hester may be reached at (609) 292-0557 or thester@starledger.com. Joe Donohue may be reached at (609) 989-0208 or jdonohue@starledger.com.
    I wil make one comment right now - what the hell is up with this rebate thing? Why not just lower property taxes or do something about it? Rebates are a waste of money and require paperwork, both at the personal level and at the government level.

    As for what really needs to be done to reduce property tax - consolidation of NJ's municipalities. It's completely out of control. Look at Princeton as a for instance - we call it Princeton, but it's actually TWO municipalities - with seperate police departments and everything (Princeton Borough is ONLY 1.7 square miles).

    BTW - so much for McGreevey's promise of lower taxes. It was one of my main complaints druring this years campaigning. It's the same thing over and over - every election, yet nothing is ever done about property taxes. All it is is a lot of hot air. I can make a pretty sure bet that after Corzine - there will be NO change in the property tax either and we wil be talking about it again in four years.
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  2. #2
    Moderator MITHRANDIR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JerseyDevil
    As for what really needs to be done to reduce property tax - consolidation of NJ's municipalities. It's completely out of control. Look at Princeton as a for instance - we call it Princeton, but it's actually TWO municipalities - with seperate police departments and everything (Princeton Borough is ONLY 1.7 square miles).
    Consolidation can (and should) be done where appropriate.
    Not only in municipalities, but in other areas as well. (schools are one area that come to mind.)

    For example, instead of having about 600 different school districts, it may be possible to have half (or even less) as many administrations running the business of operating the schools to educate our children.

    It will need to be reviewed to determine where it is appropriate to consolidate school districts. I am confident that it can be done, if people are willing to do so.

    In my property tax bill education accounts for about 50% of the bill. School district consolidations could have the possibility of reducing the education portion of the tax bill by 20-50%, depending how the consolidation is implimented. (This could be about 10-25% reduction in overall bill in my particular case. Different reductions depending on where you are located.)

    Another issue with the budget, is a more fundamental question: What do we want government to provide for us as citizens and how do we fund government to carry out what we want accomplished?

    The more we want government to do for us, the more funding (from us) will be required.

    I do not think that govenment can (nor should) do everything for everyone.
    I do think that govenment should provide some level of service to its citizens.

    The question is what kind of services and how to pay for them.
    Some basics that I think government needs to provide are Infrustructure and Police at a minimum. I am sure that there are more, but I can not think of any at the moment.
    Sincerely,
    Anthony


    NJ & You, Perfect Together

  3. #3
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    Default taxes

    Corzine has promised to do something about the tax situation but can he? His intentions are good but the tax money is being used for other things. The problem is that many of the elderly are being forced to sell out and move to apartments and young people often cannot afford nice homes. I read in the news that low income apartments are being built but it will not be anytime soon. The tax payers are not being given a choice as to where their tax dollars are going. It has to be a struggle to pay enormous taxes and the mortgage too. New Jersey has the higest taxes in the nation. It seems to me that the money for schools and such need to come from somewhere else. Therein lies the problem, where? It may not be a real problem for the wealthy but for middle class they could be taxed right out of their homes and the poorer persons cannot get a place of their own. It will be of great interest to me to see how this goes. This is a big problem for Corzine who seems to really care and wants to do something about the tax situation. Marianita

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