Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Corzine's Property Tax Agenda

From the Star Ledger:

Corzine lays out agenda on property tax reform

Gov. Jon Corzine sketched out an ambitious agenda yesterday for the upcoming special legislative session on property tax reform, saying he wants it to take up such hot-button issues as consolidating local government services and changing the formula for state aid to schools.

"If we're serious about property tax reform, then we have to have a serious agenda," Corzine said.
One goal of the special session will be a reassessment of the way the state provides aid to school districts, including the sticky issue of how to create parity between wealthier suburban districts and the 31 predominantly urban areas that the courts have identified as "special needs" districts.

"Nobody thinks we're allocating money to our school systems appropriately," Corzine said in the radio interview.
Ethics reforms also will be integral to property tax relief, Corzine said, including more scrutiny of state money going to municipalities and other local government agencies and whether the aid is based on need or doled out as political patronage.
The thorniest issue of all might be consolidating services provided by the myriad of local government across the state.

New Jersey has 566 municipalities, 616 school districts and 186 fire districts. All of those, plus 21 counties, use property taxes to pay for operations.

As an example of the cost of such duplication, Corzine offered up Bergen County. With 800,000 residents, Bergen has twice as much firefighting equipment in its local fire departments combined than in all of New York city, with 8 million residents, Corzine said.

"You don't have to be a genius or a rocket scientist to understand that all the proliferation of services isn't the most efficient way to pay for delivery of fire, police, education -- all of the services government is about," Corzine said.


Blogger grim said...

Sharing is good

In the constant babble about reforming property taxes in New Jersey, there occasionally is talk about thinking "out of the box." That sounds good, but often times, it means little. The status quo is not changed.

Two exceptions to this rule are Wharton and Mine Hill. In the isolated world of municipal services, both are boldly going where few have gone before. The towns share a police department and may eventually share a municipal court.

Now, school districts in each town are considering sharing a superintendent. It makes a lot of sense. The districts are similar. Mine Hill is a K-6 district with one school; Wharton is a K-8 district with two schools that share the same plot of land. The districts send their older students to different high schools -- Dover for Mine Hill and Morris Hills Regional for Wharton -- but that should not affect the plan.
Reforming property taxes is never going to happen unless the status quo is challenged. Mine Hill and Wharton are doing that. We can only hope other towns are paying attention. Next time you hear a mayor gripe about property taxes, ask him what he's doing to make government smaller.

7/12/2006 04:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ideally, he would start small, win the minds, and then acclimate folks to necessary changes over time, but he may have only a very short time.

Sounds like he's targeting low fruit, which really won't change anything in the political machine.

Somehow, he has to get to the money flows on a long-term basis, which means legislation and more battles.

A friend is a mayor (in OC NY), and started with the double-dippers. He made the numbers very public - first line in the articles. The mind-bending seems to be working, but time is on his side.


7/12/2006 05:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ending double dipping and forced regionalization is the only solution.

I guess Corzine read the Long Island's newspaper special series a few months back regarding the amount of equipment and moneies that the Nassau & Suffolk Counties Emergency Services had, and they still could not because of the lack of staffing & coordination. And saw that it happens in Bergen County.

7/12/2006 07:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone think Senator Stephen M. Sweeney's push to elimenate over excessive benefits that state employees currently receive is gaining any steam?? I give him alot of credit for having the courage to shed light on this. He has a website dedicated to this campaign:

Shared services are inevitable. Corzine keeps on saying he wants to be held responsible. Who paid for all of the red shirts that our state employees were wearing while protesting during their paid 5 day holiday weekend. Also do we have to pay for the task force that is going to investage the blatantly idiotic events surrounding Attorney General Zulima Farber. I'm all over the place with this post. Just aggrevated

7/12/2006 08:31:00 AM  
Anonymous dl said...

"Ethics reforms also will be integral to property tax relief, Corzine said, including more scrutiny of state money going to municipalities and other local government agencies and whether the aid is based on need or doled out as political patronage.
The thorniest issue of all might be consolidating services provided by the myriad of local government across the state. "

This is exactly the kind of thing which needs to happen - and will pi$$ off legislators on both sides of the isle.

7/12/2006 09:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just my opinion... but take a look at what corzine has done from a larger perspective... he has already raise taxes and has increased spending by 10% to an all time high of $31 billion... since he has already blown out his budget, he now has room to play the old shell game... in other words... he will cut cap expenses but will keep labor/unions growing for the next couple of years... and he can afford to do it because he has about $1-2 billion to move around.... same old, same old.

7/12/2006 10:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the state employees have corzine
on the run and they know it.

everyone seems to forget that
corzine was bedding now Katz
and she runs the union.

however, no conflict.

they are betting that they will
outlast him.

7/12/2006 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger lindsey said...

Plenty of bizarre speculation in this thread, try to get back to reality.

Grim's comment on shared services makes sense but, just as the shut down forced a crisis that had to be dealt with, a crisis mentality is necessary to get anywhere with real property tax reform.

As much as shared services would save a few bucks, to get real reform we are going to have to eliminate some municipalities. This is a Herculean task, but its the only way to go.

I spent a decade and a half covering municipal government and it is across the board wasteful.

Quick example: Rumson, Fair Haven, Sea Bright, Monmouth Beach, Little Silver and Shrewsbury. These are all wealthy, homogenous, neighboring small towns in Monmouth County. The total population has to be something like 30K. Why do they all have their own police force, administration, etc.?

Most residents don't really care that much who the mayor is (these are towns loaded with highly educated and supposedly concerned individuals, and off-year elections draw 50 percent of the voters), the entrenched bureaucracy is the obstacle.

The state is going to have to use a big carrot and a big stick to get things to change. I hope they do.

7/12/2006 11:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Resistance has created NJ the
Welfare State.

7/12/2006 11:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wild speculation? not! To cut services, that means Corzine will have to cut state/union workers... which will not happen... sorry, but it just wont... he'll go after cap expenditures first...

"As an example of the cost of such duplication, Corzine offered up Bergen County. With 800,000 residents, Bergen has twice as much firefighting equipment in its local fire departments combined than in all of New York city, with 8 million residents, Corzine said."

7/12/2006 11:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


define "state" as in "The state is going to have to.."

Be careful when you label other thoughts bizarre speculation.

Writing about it isn't the same as doing it.

7/12/2006 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger Space Ghost said...

I did not vote in 2005, but I have to give credit to Corzine. For all the flames directed at him, he's actually taken some solid steps to tackle the fiscal mess previous administrations (both Democratic and Republican) left. And he's now touching the proverbial 3rd rail of NJ politics.

I don't know if shared education services really helps that much. Really large high schools that support multiple towns (there are several in the state) are not liked by parents, because they bring a whole host of problems.

7/12/2006 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger Shailesh Gala said...

Most of NJ is suburban. In my opinion, many services can be moved to County level. The best among them would be Zoning services. That way the county can protect enviornmentally sensitive areas, while promoting development in planned manner. For e.g. Better planned Offices, Condos, Active Adult communities and Residential services, then every town deciding how to the same. This will definitely reduce restrictions and help in reducing prices.

7/12/2006 12:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the state employee work force has grown three - four times the rate employment growth for the private sector over the last five years. we've had a fractional increase in population over the last five years. many more people are leaving NJ as are companies. how can they not trim the state employee numbers???

7/12/2006 12:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone think they might cut
services in Paterson,Trenton,Elizabeth,Camden,

These are towns that really have
the give-a-ways going strong.

Corzine is a whore just like the rest to them.

7/12/2006 01:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"how can they not trim the state employee numbers???"

Because the unions control the democratic party. They want to more money and patronage jobs for themselves. Teacher's Unions is probably the worst example (it is also robbing its members by enforcing them to sign scam pension many states TU has been prosecuted, in NY spitzer wanted to have a compromise because he needed TU support - anyway I think members fully deserve to be robbed by TU).

7/12/2006 05:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and don't forget. Corzine was
bedding down Katz who runs the
communication workers union.

But that's not a conflict.

He also forgave the 450k loan
he made to her.

They think we're stupid.
(well most are)

7/12/2006 05:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is what democracy is about. NJ voted for tax-raising gay governor and now tax-raising billionaire.

I hope Corzine raises income taxes as well. I think income tax rate should be somewhere near 50%. NJ also needs to double the number of union workers, teachers and firefighters. Illegal immigrants also deserve to get more welfare checks.

I'm really happy I don't live there anymore.

7/12/2006 09:14:00 PM  
Blogger Space Ghost said...

The usual rants again. I fully support cutting back on spending, but at least Corzine is willing to do something about the fiscal mess.

Then again, why should the government be different from the people. If the people want to run up huge debts to pay for unaffordable houses, pushing off the day of reckoning, so will the government.

Illegal immigrants also deserve to get more welfare checks.

Illegal immigrants dont' get welfare.

I'm really happy I don't live there anymore.

The feeling is mutual, honeychile

7/12/2006 09:38:00 PM  
Blogger Roadtripboy said...

If property taxes are locally determined, and so many NJ municipalities refuse to regionalize their public and administrative services, then why should state government even be concerned about high property taxes?

I would support giving this kind of relief to residents of municipalities who elect to regionalize services (as Grim notes in the first post), that is, to communities who elect to make some sacrifices in an attempt to lower their own property taxes. Why should we care about lowering property taxes of communities whose residents refuse to take action to lower them for themselves?

I don't think it's right to raise the sales tax on everyone for the purpose of giving "tax relief" to a select group of people (property owners).

I think I will avoid purchasing anything taxable in the state of NJ going forward.

7/12/2006 09:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Illegal immigrants dont' get welfare.

Yes they do.

7/12/2006 10:14:00 PM  
Blogger Space Ghost said...

Yes they do.

No, they don't. They are not eligible for welfare.

7/12/2006 11:06:00 PM  
Blogger Space Ghost said...

I don't think it's right to raise the sales tax on everyone for the purpose of giving "tax relief" to a select group of people (property owners).

I think the renters tax credit also comes from the same pool.

7/12/2006 11:08:00 PM  
Blogger Roadtripboy said...

Space Ghost,

I'll bet you're right. I know that I get about $30 back for that "homestead rebate" each year.

But I still can't reconcile the state raising the sales tax on everyone to give the money to a select group. The state is in financial crisis. It seems to me that the increased tax revenue should be put toward getting us out of debt.

7/12/2006 11:24:00 PM  
Blogger Roadtripboy said...

Anon, Illegal immigrants risk deportation if they voluntarily present themselves to government officials for services. The last thing an illegal immirgrant wants to do is have any contact with any aspect of government; they want to fly under the radar.

7/12/2006 11:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a bit off-topic but here it goes:

From the L.A Times(2002)

1. 40% of all workers in L.A. County (L.A. County has 10 million people) are working for cash and not paying taxes. This was because they are predominantly illegal immigrants, working without a green card.

2. 95% of warrants for murder in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens.

3. 75% of people on the most wanted list in Los Angeles are illegal aliens.

4. Over 2/3's of all births in Los Angeles County are to illegal alien Mexicans on Medi-Cal whose births were paid for by taxpayers.

5. Nearly 25% of all inmates in California detention centers are Mexican nationals here illegally.

6. Over 300,000 illegal aliens in Los Angeles County are living in garages.

7. The FBI reports half of all gang members in Los Angeles are most likely illegal aliens from south of the border.

8. Nearly 60% of all occupants of HUD properties are illegal.

9. 21 radio stations in L.A. are Spanish speaking.

10. In L.A.County 5.1 million people speak English. 3.9 million speak Spanish (10.2 million people in L.A.County).

(All 10 from the Los Angeles Times)

Less than 2% of illegal aliens are picking our crops but 29% are on welfare.

Over 70% of the United States annual population growth (and over 90% of California, Florida, and New York) results from immigration.

The cost of immigration to the American taxpayer in 1997 was a NET (after subtracting taxes immigrants pay) $70 BILLION a year, [Professor Donald Huddle, Rice University].

29% of inmates in federal prisons are illegal aliens.

7/13/2006 09:05:00 AM  

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