Two NJ Towns Pressure Residents To Let Them Boost Property Taxes [POLL]
Two Garden State towns are holding special elections today to ask voters to allow local officials to raise property taxes more than the 2 percent state cap that’s in effect, to be able to pay for essential services like trash collection.
Governor Christie is advising residents of Lawrence and Medford to vote no on their referendums.
“I’d call their bluff- that’s what I would do,” says the Governor, “They’ve got to find other things to cut, and I think they’re just using that to try to scare you.”
Bill Dressel, the Executive Director of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, disagrees.
He says local officials “have exercised due diligence, they have looked at every possible way to try to reduce their reliance on the property tax…they have been confronted with atypical circumstances that probably local officials in the history of our state have never dealt with before…the economy has gone south, real estate values have plummeted, property tax appeals are at an all-time high…and we’re still seeing costs coming in above 2 percent – you’ve got energy costs, you’ve got insurance costs.”
He says local officials have “been put in a very difficult position, to be able to provide quality of life services at an affordable cost and there are some very real challenges…to point the finger at local officials is a little unfair when you take a look at all of the issues that they have to deal with in order to manage their communities.”
Dressel adds everyone is always saying government should be run like a business- and that’s fine -however “there’s not many businesses who would be able to deal with the rules and the regulations and the kinds of problems that local officials have to deal with…if a businessman had to deal with the same kind of rules, regulations and circumstances that local officials have got to deal with, there would be a lot of businesses closing up shop and leaving the state – I think we’ve got to be fair – we’ve started the comeback …it’s a good start – but looking at 2012 we’re still seeing cost increases beyond 2 percent and it’s pretty tough to govern under those circumstances- so we’ve got to be fair to everyone.”