Municipal revenue rush is on as NJ towns pursue new sources
With state aid to municipalities expected to hold steady again this year in New Jersey, towns all over the Garden State are scrambling to come up with innovative new ways to generate revenue, because built-in costs like pensions and benefits continue to rise.
Some towns like Medford are even considering buying cemeteries as investments.
"Everything is on the table when it comes to raising revenue and cutting spending so property taxes don't go up," said Bill Dressel, executive director of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities.
Dressel said some municipalities are exploring the idea of selling property to get money.
"There might be surplus land in the community that is not being used, so they'll do a cost-benefit analysis of that," he said. "When you're trying to reduce property taxes, if you're not utilizing that piece of ground, it might be something to do."
In addition, he said towns are also looking at charging more for certain kinds of services, like the removal of old appliances, or even snow removal.
"Everything is being looked at," Dressel said. "Local officials understand the nexus; when we're experiencing state and federal cutbacks, you either have to reduce services or increase taxes."
Dressel said local governments can be quite innovative when it comes to finding win-win situations.
"They may want to look at charging for recreation services, or you might be charging outside groups or private entities to use public grounds or public facilities," he said.
He added some South Jersey towns are now installing GPS trackers to monitor the movement of their public vehicles, and also to make routing more efficient, to save time and fuel.