Municipal aid flat: Check local govt tax bills for every NJ town
TRENTON – Property tax bills next year might be eased by larger rebates and credits and, for two-thirds of cities and towns, more school aid – but municipal governments aren’t in line to share in that bounty, under Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed budget.
Municipal taxes account for close to 30% of the average property tax bill in New Jersey, or $2,725 in 2021. But those bills can vary widely, as can their share of the local tab.
(Lists are presented at the end of this story below showing those bills statewide as well as within each county.)
The total in the proposed state budget for municipal aid actually goes down by $8.5 million, as less transitional aid is planned for distressed cities and towns, despite legislative interest in increasing it.
“If the governor and the Democrats were serious, they would return the $2.6 billion of Energy Receipts dollars that belongs to the municipalities and that could be lowered and would lower property taxes,” said Assembly Minority Leader John DiMaio, R-Warren.
The state has a formula for distributing aid to municipalities. If it were being followed, they would get around $2.6 billion – but instead, get about half of that.
“If we could focus on that one thing and get it done, that would help all property taxes in the state of New Jersey – not a select few but all, including small businesses, Main Street, U.S.A.," DiMaio said.
A bill unanimously passed by the Senate earlier this month would return about one-quarter of that difference, $330 million, over two years. It’s now pending in an Assembly committee that’s not on the schedule to meet again until May, after most of the Legislature goes on hiatus for budget hearings.
The bill was amended in the Senate to return that funding to municipalities over the course of two years, rather than five as originally proposed. It would still require towns to pass along the increase to taxpayers by making them reduce their property tax levies by an equal amount.
The changes sought by that bill aren’t incorporated in Murphy’s initial budget blueprint, though it’s possible they can be added during budget negotiations this spring.
“It’s in the weeds and everything, but it gives money back to the municipalities,” said Senate Minority Leader Steve Oroho, R-Sussex. “The Republicans have had that bill, I challenge you – take a look how long we’ve had that bill.”
The first version of the bill was introduced in 2012.
“Put the Republicans in charge and you won’t have to wait 10 years, we’ll do it right away,” Oroho said.