407 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08618  (609)695-3481  NJLM logo 
William G. Dressel Jr, Executive Director - Michael J. Darcey, CAE, Asst Executive Director
STATEMENT BY THE HONORABLE GARY PASSANANTE,
MAYOR OF SOMERDALE,
MEMBER, NJ LEAGUE OF MUNICIPALITIES' EXECUTIVE BOARD, AND
CHAIRMAN, NJ LEAGUE OF MUNICIPALITIES'
PROPERTY TAX REFORM COMMITTEE,
CONCERNING A-5269 AND ACR-25,
REGADING A CITIZENS' SPECIAL CONVENTION FOR
PROPERTY TAX REFORM,
BEFORE THE ASSEMBLY STATE GOVERNMENT COMMITTEE,
THURSDAY, JANUARY 13, TRENTON, NJ

Thank you, Chairman Steele and members of the Assembly State Government Committee. I am Gary Passanante, Mayor of Somerdale. I am a Member of the League of Municipalities' Executive Board and the Chair of the League's Property Tax Reform Committee. With me is Mayor Jo-Anne Schubert of South Bound Brook, who is the League's Immediate Past President.

This hearing could signal the beginning of the end of our State's chronic over-dependence on regressive property taxes.

The property tax accounts for over 45% of total State and local tax revenue in our State. The National average is just slightly above 30%. In 1997, the New Jersey per capita property tax burden amounted to $1,596 - almost doubling the National average of $825. New Jersey property taxes equaled 5.6 %, as a percentage of personal income - a full 2 points above the National average of 3.6%. And in our State, those with the least shoulder a disproportionate share of the burden. Households with incomes in the lowest 20 % pay 9.2% of their earnings in property taxes, while the wealthiest 20 % pay 3.6% of their income through this assessment.

The call for a special Convention is focused exclusively on the need to relieve the people of our State from our well-documented over-reliance on property taxes to fund local governments and schools. Time and time and time again, New Jersey governors have called into being a long line of Special Blue Ribbon Property Tax Commissions. Over and over and over again, they have studied New Jersey's regressive over-reliance on the property tax as a source of funding for essential services and programs. Dutifully, they have filed their conclusions and recommendations. Yet New Jersey remains nationally notorious for its unequaled and inequitable over-reliance on the property tax.

The League and the Citizens for Property Tax reform were the first statewide organizations to embrace the idea of a special convention to reform New Jersey's property tax system when it was proposed by former State Senator Bill Schluter over five years ago. Senator John Adler and Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Roberts should be commended for their consistent leadership on this issue. All who truly yearn for property tax reform are delighted to see the beginning of the process that will eventually let the people of New Jersey participate in the rehabilitation of this antiquated system that no longer works for the state or its citizens.

In July of last year, Somerdale was honored by hosting Governor McGreevey's signing of Bill A-97 creating a Property Tax Convention Task Force. Last September, I was equally honored to be asked to serve on that Task Force. The report of the Task Force stands as testimony, too rare in the annuls of such enterprises, to the energy, expertise, efficiency and earnest dedication of my colleagues on the Task Force, and especially of our Chairman, Dr. Carl Van Horn and our Vice Chair, Michael Cole. On more than one occasion, the Task Force was commended for its open dialogue, constructive sharing of ideas and philosophies and willingness to work on a bi-partisan basis to achieve the common goal of permanent property tax reform.

I believe our recommendations give the Legislature a solid base on which to build true and lasting property tax reform for the people of our State, through a special convention. Now, with the work of the Task Force done, the work of the Legislature begins. The people of New Jersey expect the Senate and General Assembly, as well as Acting Governor Codey, to act on a property tax convention bill. They need nothing more than that. They deserve nothing less.

The League of Municipalities does not object to any of the provisions included in A-5269. But, we can only support the bill if language is added to Section 2 to prevent the Convention from recommending a state-wide equalized property tax to fund education.

The solution to our over-dependence on the property tax is not another property tax, especially one that could increase the burden on a widow living on a fixed income in a relatively "low property tax" jurisdiction; while potentially decreasing the levy imposed on a couple with two good and growing incomes, who happen to live in a relatively "high property tax" town.

That one addition will immeasurably improve the bill before you. And it will win our support for A-5269.

We fully support ACR-25, which is needed to allow the Convention to propose, for voter approval, statutory changes for property tax reform.

We hope the Legislature will heed our request to move deliberatively, but surely, toward the goal of property tax reform, through a citizens' special convention. The property tax is not a North, or a South, or a Central Jersey problem. It is not an urban, or suburban or rural issue. From Cape May Point to High Point, from the Hudson River to the Delaware Bay, the property tax is a New Jersey problem that can, and will, be solved by the people w NJLM - Statement by the Honorable Gary Passanante
407 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08618  (609)695-3481  NJLM logo 
William G. Dressel Jr, Executive Director - Michael J. Darcey, CAE, Asst Executive Director
STATEMENT BY THE HONORABLE GARY PASSANANTE,
MAYOR OF SOMERDALE,
MEMBER, NJ LEAGUE OF MUNICIPALITIES' EXECUTIVE BOARD, AND
CHAIRMAN, NJ LEAGUE OF MUNICIPALITIES'
PROPERTY TAX REFORM COMMITTEE,
CONCERNING A-5269 AND ACR-25,
REGADING A CITIZENS' SPECIAL CONVENTION FOR
PROPERTY TAX REFORM,
BEFORE THE ASSEMBLY STATE GOVERNMENT COMMITTEE,
THURSDAY, JANUARY 13, TRENTON, NJ

Thank you, Chairman Steele and members of the Assembly State Government Committee. I am Gary Passanante, Mayor of Somerdale. I am a Member of the League of Municipalities' Executive Board and the Chair of the League's Property Tax Reform Committee. With me is Mayor Jo-Anne Schubert of South Bound Brook, who is the League's Immediate Past President.

This hearing could signal the beginning of the end of our State's chronic over-dependence on regressive property taxes.

The property tax accounts for over 45% of total State and local tax revenue in our State. The National average is just slightly above 30%. In 1997, the New Jersey per capita property tax burden amounted to $1,596 - almost doubling the National average of $825. New Jersey property taxes equaled 5.6 %, as a percentage of personal income - a full 2 points above the National average of 3.6%. And in our State, those with the least shoulder a disproportionate share of the burden. Households with incomes in the lowest 20 % pay 9.2% of their earnings in property taxes, while the wealthiest 20 % pay 3.6% of their income through this assessment.

The call for a special Convention is focused exclusively on the need to relieve the people of our State from our well-documented over-reliance on property taxes to fund local governments and schools. Time and time and time again, New Jersey governors have called into being a long line of Special Blue Ribbon Property Tax Commissions. Over and over and over again, they have studied New Jersey's regressive over-reliance on the property tax as a source of funding for essential services and programs. Dutifully, they have filed their conclusions and recommendations. Yet New Jersey remains nationally notorious for its unequaled and inequitable over-reliance on the property tax.

The League and the Citizens for Property Tax reform were the first statewide organizations to embrace the idea of a special convention to reform New Jersey's property tax system when it was proposed by former State Senator Bill Schluter over five years ago. Senator John Adler and Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Roberts should be commended for their consistent leadership on this issue. All who truly yearn for property tax reform are delighted to see the beginning of the process that will eventually let the people of New Jersey participate in the rehabilitation of this antiquated system that no longer works for the state or its citizens.

In July of last year, Somerdale was honored by hosting Governor McGreevey's signing of Bill A-97 creating a Property Tax Convention Task Force. Last September, I was equally honored to be asked to serve on that Task Force. The report of the Task Force stands as testimony, too rare in the annuls of such enterprises, to the energy, expertise, efficiency and earnest dedication of my colleagues on the Task Force, and especially of our Chairman, Dr. Carl Van Horn and our Vice Chair, Michael Cole. On more than one occasion, the Task Force was commended for its open dialogue, constructive sharing of ideas and philosophies and willingness to work on a bi-partisan basis to achieve the common goal of permanent property tax reform.

I believe our recommendations give the Legislature a solid base on which to build true and lasting property tax reform for the people of our State, through a special convention. Now, with the work of the Task Force done, the work of the Legislature begins. The people of New Jersey expect the Senate and General Assembly, as well as Acting Governor Codey, to act on a property tax convention bill. They need nothing more than that. They deserve nothing less.

The League of Municipalities does not object to any of the provisions included in A-5269. But, we can only support the bill if language is added to Section 2 to prevent the Convention from recommending a state-wide equalized property tax to fund education.

The solution to our over-dependence on the property tax is not another property tax, especially one that could increase the burden on a widow living on a fixed income in a relatively "low property tax" jurisdiction; while potentially decreasing the levy imposed on a couple with two good and growing incomes, who happen to live in a relatively "high property tax" town.

That one addition will immeasurably improve the bill before you. And it will win our support for A-5269.

We fully support ACR-25, which is needed to allow the Convention to propose, for voter approval, statutory changes for property tax reform.

We hope the Legislature will heed our request to move deliberatively, but surely, toward the goal of property tax reform, through a citizens' special convention. The property tax is not a North, or a South, or a Central Jersey problem. It is not an urban, or suburban or rural issue. From Cape May Point to High Point, from the Hudson River to the Delaware Bay, the property tax is a New Jersey problem that can, and will, be solved by the people whom it plagues, if they are given the chance. We urge the Legislature, on a bipartisan basis, to amend A-5269, and advance it and ACR-25, without delay.

 

 

Click Here to return to the League's Home Page