Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Land of Towns and Taxes

From the Star Ledger:

How Jersey became the land of so many towns -- and taxes

One state, 21 counties, 566 municipalities and 616 school districts. Government and bureaucracy at every level.

Maybe, in a Jersey kind of way, it all makes sense.

The reasons for this abundance of towns and school districts -- and the relentless property tax problem that comes with it -- are as varied as the landscape. Some communities grew up around the big cities of New York and Philadelphia. Others began as oceanside resorts, or as stagecoach stops. In some places, people sought out a home where drinking wasn't allowed, or where playing golf on Sunday was. Some school districts were formed to ensure racial segregation.

Historians say there was no grand plan in making this a state that has more municipalities per square mile than any other. Groups just acted on their own interests, and the state didn't get in the way.

The late Alan Karcher, a speaker of the state Assembly in the 1980s, was once moved to write that by the end of the 20th century, the boundaries of New Jersey towns looked like "a web woven by a spider on LSD."
The average property tax bill in the state last year was nearly $5,900 -- an increase of 29 percent in four years. The average homeowner uses about 5.6 percent of personal income for property taxes, according to William G. Dressel, director of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities. The national average is 3.6 percent.

And leaders from citizen activist groups claimed this week 44 percent of all tax revenue in New Jersey comes from property taxes, compared with a national average closer to 30 percent.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Big Squueeeeeggggeee is on.

Higher property taxes Higher utility cost higher gas prices higer insurance cost higher food prices .... When have these fixed cost liabilities ever gone down?

Something has to give.

House prices have to give; MUCHO give too!




7/16/2006 09:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today was a perferct day from the news reporters regarding the property tax issue. The Bergen Record has a great property tax investigative piece from ther land of the $100k cops- that matches the Star-Ledger.

If you read in between the lines - its says -> "Force regionalization is coming" with carrots & sticks.

7/16/2006 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger Metroplexual said...

NJ invented home rule. We get what we deserve not too much government but too many.

7/16/2006 03:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like we're starting to have a real discussion about the problems in NJ. As I've said before, plenty of carrots and sticks are going to be needed, and the many police departments are definitely going to have to have sticks taken to them, because they are going to be very reluctant to give up their carrots.

Another sticking point is going to be how to bring into line those who cannot get their savings from consolidation with other communities, i.e. the Jersey Citys and even the Middletowns.


7/16/2006 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger Shailesh Gala said...

I don't think any real change will happen. For most part the town politicians will resist any move to reduce their control. The majority residents bought a houses in towns where they live due to factors like school district etc... Just the thought that your neighbouring town where houses are very cheap will be using the same school district as yours (and you paid twice the amount), will be enough to resist such a movement.

7/17/2006 09:54:00 AM  

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