Good news for New Jersey homeowners: Property taxes rose at the smallest pace in four years in 2017, up 1.6 percent to an average of $8,690.

The bad news is that still means the tax jumped by $480 million statewide.

Once taxes paid to special districts that provide fire, garbage and other services are included, the statewide tab topped $29 billion, more than doubling since the turn of the century.

INTERACTIVE MAP: Scroll to end of story to see how your town did.

Gov. Chris Christie referenced last year’s 1.6 percent increase in his State of the State address. The data hasn’t yet been made public by the Department of Community Affairs, but New Jersey 101.5 put together town-by-town data by compiling county and Treasury Department information.

The average tax bill was up in 498 municipalities, including 296 where it was up by more than 2 percent, topped by double-digit increases in Sea Bright and West Wildwood. The average bill was down in 67 municipalities, from tiny Walpack and Loch Arbour to bigger cities like Trenton, New Brunswick and Atlantic City.

Top 10 tax decreases

Municipality County 2017 avg Change
WALPACK Sussex $1,277 -30.1%
LOCH ARBOUR Monmouth $16,875 -24.4%
ATLANTIC CITY Atlantic $4,839 -19.%
SALEM CITY Salem $3,127 -16.3%
INTERLAKEN Monmouth $7,251 -15.1%
TRENTON Mercer $3,110 -14.7%
PINE HILL Camden $5,824 -10.7%
NEW BRUNSWICK Middlesex $6,166 -10.3%
ROCKLEIGH Bergen $14,315 -8.%
EAST NEWARK Hudson $6,559 -7.8%

 

Christie said the 2 percent property tax cap passed in 2010 was “tough medicine” but worked.

“In the last seven years, property taxes have increased an average of 1.98 percent per year. The 2 percent cap worked. Don’t change it,” Christie said.

Though an arbitration cap affecting police and fire contracts ended 10 days ago, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, said the broader 2 percent cap isn’t going away.

“And I wish it was zero, to be perfectly honest with you. I wish I went to zero when we did it because it was hard to do and you’re not going to be able to get there again.”

Taxes on the average home rose by $141 in 2017. They rose more than $1,100 in the first seven years of Christie’s term, which Christie accurately noted amounts to an average increase of 1.98 percent.

“In the ten years before we came to Trenton, property taxes increased 70 percent. An average of 7 percent a year, every year, for ten years. Fact,” Christie said.

That part’s not accurate. Growth in property taxes averaged 5.5 percent over that decade, with the total increase over 10 years compounding to just over 70 percent. His analysis also leaves out the impact of the larger rebates that were being paid to more residents in that decade.

Growth slowed under Christie to 15 percent over seven years.

Top 10 tax increases

Municipality County 2017 avg Change
SEA BRIGHT Monmouth $7,729 15.9%
WEST WILDWOOD Cape May $4,419 12.%
PENNSVILLE Salem $6,189 8.3%
TETERBORO Bergen $1,973 7.9%
SEASIDE PARK Ocean $7,752 7.7%
OLDMANS Salem $5,034 7.2%
HI-NELLA Camden $7,017 6.8%
EAST RUTHERFORD Bergen $6,571 6.7%
NEW HANOVER Burlington $4,709 6.7%
CAPE MAY Cape May $5,670 6.4%

 

FIND YOUR TOWN: Scroll to end of story to see how your town did.

In 2017, the average tax bill topped $10,000 in 154 of the state’s 565 municipalities, seven more than a year earlier. The average bill topped $30,000 in Tavistock and $20,000 in Millburn, Alpine, Tenafly and Mountain Lakes. It’s still under $4,000 in 22 cities and towns, nearly all in South Jersey.

School taxes accounted for 62 percent of the hike in 2017 and 53 percent of the average bill, so Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, said more school aid is key.

“Opportunity for the middle class begins with access to good education, and full funding of schools is a real property tax relief and opportunity for middle class mobility,” Coughlin said.

Gov.-elect Phil Murphy supports increasing school funding by using the proceeds from a higher income tax on income over $1 million.

Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald, D-Camden, said property taxes are an “unfair and unconscionable” system that people have debated changing for 40 years or longer.

“The time for meaningful property tax reform in New Jersey is long overdue,” Greenwald said. “And as we enter this legislative session with new leadership and a new governor, we must have the tough conversations about how we move forward New Jersey together in a bipartisan fashion.”

NJ property taxes in 2017

Zoom out, zoom in, click on a town to see how property taxes changed last year for an average residential bill.

GREEN = Average cut
YELLOW = Average increase up to 2%
RED = Average increase over 2%
Works best on a desktop computer.


New Jersey: Decoded cuts through the cruft and gets to what matters in New Jersey news and politics. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.


Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com