July 6, 2010
MUNICIPALITIES FEAR NEW CAP AGREEMENT
POSTPONES REAL PROPERTY TAX REFORM
League of Municipalities’ Executive Director Bill Dressel had this to say, regarding the announcement that Governor Christie and Senate President Sweeney have reached agreement on new property tax caps.
“The Governor has said, ‘New caps without the toolkit are unworkable.’
“He is right.
“But now, having reached agreement on unworkable new caps, policy makers will be tempted to declare victory in the ongoing struggle against oppressive, regressive property taxes, just as was done after the 2006 Special Session for Property Tax Reform. As Yogi said, ‘It’s déjà vu all over again.’
“If the momentum for reform lags in Trenton after passing new caps, but before passing management reforms and mandates relief initiatives, local officials will be forced to operate an unworkable engine. The real losers will be the people of New Jersey who will be forced to choose between higher taxes or a steady and certain deterioration of vital local services. Vital services will be reduced or eliminated, or taxes will go up, unless cost containment measures are enacted in Trenton, before the Governor signs the new caps into law.
“The only other alternative would be to allow the voters to enact a constitutional dedication of vital municipal property tax relief funding. But we don't see that happing any time soon.
“Local officials in New Jersey have done so much with so little for so long, that the Trenton establishment now thinks it's reasonable to ask them to do everything with next to nothing.
“Absent cost containment initiatives or an end to the diversion of municipal revenue replacement funding, these new caps will only shift the burden of deciding whether to slash vital municipal services or increase property taxes from local elected officials to the citizens who elected them.
No one can declare a victory for real property tax reform until the toolkit is enacted. ”
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For further information contact: William G. Dressel, Jr., Executive Director at (609)695-3481, extension 122 or 609-915-9072.