Sky-high property taxes continue to be a major problem for New Jersey residents, and for some it’s worse than others.
Gov. Chris Christie blames residents for New Jersey’s highest-in-the-nation property taxes, saying they must sacrifice public services if they want lower property taxes, but Democratic activist Lisa McCormick argues that the Republican is using a false narrative to excuse the unfair allocation of costs that have resulted since 1980.
“We know what to do to solve the problem, but we are unwilling as a society to accept the medicine we need to accept to solve it,” Christie said. “I at times grow disillusioned by New Jerseyans who are always complaining about their property taxes but don’t want any reduction in services or change in the way things are being done.”
The average property tax bill going into 2017 was $8,549, up 2.35 percent from the previous year. In some towns, the average is double or triple that amount.
Statewide total tax collections have grown by $500 million a year since Christie took office in 2010, with property tax bills costing an average 9 percent of household income.
“Republicans pretend there is no difference between feeling the most pain and paying the most, but for those who have lots of money a high tax bill hurts less,” said McCormick. “The way to tell if a tax bill is fair is by looking at what you get for your money and judging whether the amount that is left over is enough to live on.”
McCormick said she would like Democrat Phil Murphy to come out with a property tax plan like the one proposed by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.
“Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno has proposed an idea similar to one floated by former Assembly Speaker Alan J. Karcher in 1984,” said McCormick. “That would cap property tax bills at five percent of income.”
Karcher, the fiery liberal Speaker of the New Jersey Assembly for two terms in the 1980’s, died in 1999 at the age of 56 from lung cancer.
“Candidates might also benefit by reading a book Karcher wrote called New Jersey’s Multiple Municipal Madness, which examined the crazy quilt of towns in the state and proposed merging some of the state’s 566 municipalities,” said McCormick. “I would like to see more candidates embrace that idea but too many lack the courage to consider abandoning home rule and threatening corrupt political machines.”
Here’s a look at who’s paying the most:
Millburn, Essex: $23,327 average property taxes ($1,082,989 average home)
Loch Arbour, Monmouth: $22,323 average property taxes ($1,040,183 average home)
Tavistock, Camden: $21,689 average property taxes ($1,720,000 average home)
Alpine, Bergen: $20,910 average property taxes ($2,724,160 average home)
Tenafly, Bergen: $19,866 average property taxes ($803,377 average home)
Mountain Lakes, Morris: $19,775 average property taxes ($782,636 average home)
Rumson, Monmouth: $19,146 average property taxes ($1,336,434 average home)
Glen Ridge, Essex: $19,045 average property taxes ($543,553 average home)
Mendham Township, Morris: $18,752 average property taxes ($908,246 average home)
Essex Fells, Essex: $18,743 average property taxes ($923,039 average home)
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