Paying for rising fuel costs under Cap Law restrictions will force local officials to under-fund essential services. Coming just as budget-busting public employee pension and benefit bills come due, these fuel costs threaten to undermine the ability of municipalities to adequately protect the public’s health, safety and welfare.
Accordingly, we have asked Governor Codey to direct the Local Finance Board to grant a one-year exception to all municipalities for these unanticipated costs, retroactive to July 1, 2005. Faced with a 2.5 percent Cap, vital services will be under-funded if municipalities are forced to finance them without the flexibility provided by a Cap exception.
But Cap limitations are not the real problem. And Cap exceptions are only a stop-gap solution.
Local government’s state mandated over-reliance on regressive property taxes is the largest issue facing the New Jersey Legislature. But the people of this state can no longer wait for that body to address this issue on another day.
According to the opinion polls we’ve seen, the property tax is the paramount concern of the vast majority of New Jersey citizens. And local officials have seen the harsh impacts and heard loud and clear the frustrations of taxpayers under a property tax system that is simply broken.
These impacts are not numbers on a financial statement, dollars in a budget—they are human impacts. Senior citizens who are unable to stay in homes they’ve lived in for years, the homes in which they raised their children. Young families who want to raise their families in the town they grew up in but can’t. Even if they can afford the house, the property taxes that come with it are just too much. These folks are leaving, and our communities are the poorer because of it.
The legislature can no longer dismiss local governments as spendthrifts when the core problem is an inequitable and regressive system of taxation that they refuse to repair.
New Jersey needs a citizen’s property tax convention and to accomplish this, the citizens of New Jersey must demand action from the Senate and Assembly. We can no longer be patient with the politics of property tax reform. The citizens of this state are suffering and our representatives in Trenton must act!
Editorial from New Jersey
Municipalities, Volume 82, Number 8, November