Will you say NO to Increase the Property Tax Cap in your Local Community?

Is the tax cap for real, or just a game of political 3 card Monty? 

NJ property tax cap

You can't win

On April 27, 2011, local officials will ask for a referendum from the voters in their communities for permission to increase property taxes beyond the 2% Cap. How will you vote?

In July, 2010 the State Senate and Assembly voted overwhelmingly to cap property tax increases, with several exemptions for health care, pensions, debts service, states of emergency, and increased school enrollment. The law places the decision to exceed the cap in any given year on the taxpayers in the local communities. Today is the last day for towns and schools to publish a newspaper ad notifying the voting local public there may be a referendum held on April 27, 2011 to yea or nay an increase.

Facts and figures

Under the prior system for securing property tax increases, a local government would apply for an increase beyond the 4% cap to the State Local Finance Committee. 51 applications were made last year, and 50 were granted. The last decade began with tax bills averaging $4,429 statewide and ended with average bills of $7,281, a more than 60 percent increase. Tax bills were going up by more than 7 percent annually in the mid-2000s before a 4 percent cap was enacted by Gov. Jon Corzine in 2007. The last two years saw average statewide increases of 3.7 and 3.3 percent. Conservatives point to those type of decreases when promoting the benefit of tax caps, but labor leaders say they only tell half the story because some communities have eliminated valued services and jobs to get under the caps. New Jersey residents shoulder the highest property tax burden in the U.S.A.

Reactions to the tax cap and local referendums

  • Barbara Keshishian, president of the New Jersey Education Association, the teachers’ union, called the tax cap “an ill-conceived and shortsighted policy” that will damage schools.
  • Brick Mayor Steve Acropolis, “We’re going to basically say to the voters, what things do you want to pay for, what things don’t you want to pay for?”
  • Lambertville Mayor David Del Vecchio, “I think it’s great, voters should decide”

Read more

There is an excellent article in NJ.com about the tax cap, waiver, and referendum. You may wish to check it out if you have a few moments. It is worth the read.

You may wish to read the “Taxgirl’s” take on the property tax cap. You’ll be glad you did.

N.J. property tax cap, waiver, and referendum

Ssssh....I'm thinking

Commentary

I am afraid the New Jersey property taxpayers are the victim of a political game of three card Monty; unless you are willing to say NO, and live with less local government services. What did we learn from the latest worldwide economic tsunami? Spending can’t keep spiralling out of control without devastating consequences. Put the credit cards away, and try living within your means. Now, that’s a novel thought.

I am fascinated to learn how many local governments and school systems apply for a waiver of the 2% cap. How many voters will have the courage to just say NO. My bet is it will be business as usual, and NJ will maintain its position as #1 in the race to pay the highest property taxes in the land. By now, NJ should retire the trophy.

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About Lawrence "Larry" Berezin

I retired from the private practice of law after a 35-year legal career and fight parking tickets for people like you and me. I love sharing valuable information, tips and tricks to help drivers beat NYC parking tickets.

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