STATE – Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney said that Assemblyman Joseph Cryan’s proposal to exempt public safety worker costs from the two-percent cap on municipal tax hikes is “dead on arrival in the Senate.”
“Property taxpayers want relief, not loopholes. They want us to work to rein in costs, not create new avenues to bypass reform. They want this cap to work and finally end the never-ending cycle of higher and higher taxes,” said Sweeney (D-Gloucester).
“While we’re working to give local officials a tool kit to make the cap work, others are looking only for a stick of dynamite to blow up the whole thing.”
This summer, New Jersey lawmakers voted to limit future municipal property tax hikes. The cap included exceptions for pension and health insurance cost increases, debt service and extraordinary circumstances.
Cryan (D-Union) wants to temporarily allow municipalities to raise taxes outside the two percent cap to pay police officers, firefighters and other emergency workers.
The exception would give local officials “an option to put a value on public safety,” according to Cryan, who also works as an undersheriff in Union County. It would apply to budgets passed before 2014, giving municipalities an opportunity to renegotiate contracts.
The current tax cap law allows municipalities to exceed the tax cap if a majority of voters agree in a referendum.
According to Census data released this week, New Jersey property owners pay the highest taxes of any state in the Union – a median $6,579 per year. Connecticut comes in second place at $4,738, and New York is fourth at $3,755.
Many New Jersey municipalities have had to lay off public safety workers to balance their budgets this year. Newark gave layoff notices to 165 police officers and about 90 firefighters this week, while Atlantic City is planning to cut 40 police officers and 30 firefighters.
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