April 2, 2012 - Christie Administration Cites Progress on Real, Long-Term Property Tax Relief at Assembly Budget Hearing
Christie Administration Cites Progress on Real, Long-Term Property Tax Relief at Assembly Budget Hearing
DCA Affirms that Property Tax Increases in 2011 Were the Lowest in Two Decades
TRENTON, N.J. – The Christie Administration today underscored once again its commitment to real, long-term property tax relief by summarizing its achievements through tool kit reforms and other efficiencies.
Appearing before the Assembly Budget Committee, New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Acting Commissioner Richard E. Constable, III today told committee members that efforts to slow property tax increases are producing positive results. In fact, a recent study has shown that in 2011 New Jersey had the lowest property tax growth in 20 years.
"Let's be clear – the 2% cap is working. Property tax increases in 2011 were the lowest in two decades. And between 2009 and 2011, property taxes collected from New Jersey's taxpayers increased from $24 billion in 2009 to $25.6 billion in 2011 – a 6.6% increase over a two-year period, and the lowest two-year increase in 20 years," Acting Commissioner Constable said. "As of today, only three towns are currently considering levy cap waiver elections. The vast majority of local governments are living within their means with the cost savings tools secured by Governor Christie rather than continuing to pass the burden onto taxpayers. Still, there is much more that needs to be done to control costs and deliver relief that the Christie Administration is committed to, such as ending the abuse of unused sick and vacation pay, promoting shared services and consolidation, and bringing real reform of the state civil service system."
Acting Commissioner Constable attributed property tax relief progress to reforms in public employee pension and health benefits and the state's interest arbitration system, and urged lawmakers to continue the momentum by approving the additional tool kit reforms proposed by Governor Christie, particularly those related to sick and vacation time payouts and civil service.
"The tool kit is absolutely critical to New Jersey's future as these measures give towns and school districts more power to hold down pay increases, find efficiencies and reduce duplicative processes and services," he said. "We clearly recognize that the tool kit is critical for our local officials to manage within the 2% cap. Mayors confirm this to us every day."
The Acting Commissioner also reminded Committee members that the second year of the Best Practices Initiative produced improved efficiencies and that only a handful of towns were penalized this year compared to the 161 municipalities in the first year. The Commissioner said that the Best Practices Initiative is an effective way to encourage municipalities to consider and embrace a range of procedures and protocols that will help improve financial accountability and transparency that will inevitably lead to savings for property taxpayers.
The fiscal year 2013 budget proposal, which protects municipal aid at fiscal year 2011 and 2012 funding levels, provided secure, stable funding for the third year in a row. The Acting Commissioner said this helps local governments to control property taxes and demonstrates that municipal aid is a core priority of the Christie Administration.
Finally, Acting Commissioner Constable assured the Committee that the Department will continue its strict oversight of financially distressed municipalities receiving Transitional Aid, as well as its focus on consolidation and shared services.
To read the Acting Commissioner’s full testimony, please go to http://www.nj.gov/dca/news/news/2012/FY13Testimony.pdf on the DCA website.