Leading The Charge To Lower The Cost Of Local Government
Corzine’s talking about going after municipalities with lower local government costs, but high property taxes. Of course he forgets to mention one reason property taxes are so high in these towns is because they receive little to almost no state aid, while the residents send an obscene amount of tax dollars to the state.
When Burlington County resident Richard Harris recommended that each county have just one school district to ease the property tax burden, Corzine said he plans to "lead the charge" for less local government.Maybe someone should tell the Governor many municipalities with high property taxes currently share services, use volunteers or require residents to make private arrangements and personally pay for a variety of services taken for granted by the bottomless money pits, such as Newark. Shared regional high schools, all volunteer fire and EMS services, and requiring homeowners to privately contract and pay for services, such as garbage disposal, are not unique in towns paying their own way. Encouraging more municipalities to adopt similar strategies is great, but that’s not where the really big bucks can be saved.
"I think we are going to have to come to grips as a society with whether we need all this fragmentation," he said. "Communities that are consolidating or sharing services, we will be more apt to grant aid in those circumstances."
[Assembly Speaker Joseph] Roberts (D-Camden) and Gov. Jon Corzine's staff are developing legislation to encourage shared services that is expected to include a "carrot and stick" approach. Legislation may call for more aid for towns or schools that develop shared service programs -- and aid cuts for those that do not act when a shared service is obvious.As Governor Corzine and Assembly Speaker Roberts are both pushing to reduce the cost of local government, we suggest they begin with a list of municipalities sucking the state dry. These are the towns currently receiving almost all of the carrots, while the rest receive a stick in the eye. If legislation is needed, it's needed to reverse state’s present carrot and stick approach.
As you can see from the chart below, the costs per homeowner for these local governments are outrageously high and the state’s taxpayers are picking up the tab for as much as 95% of the costs. How about a stick to prevent this abuse?
If you’re curious how your town compares, check out this database compiled from government records by the Star-Ledger. Fair warning - do so at your own risk, it’s enough to make you sick. You’ll find most towns have a cost per homeowner about half the cost of the lowest in the chart below.
New Jersey Municipalities with High Cost Local Governments