"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Leading The Charge To Lower The Cost Of Local Government

Governor Corzine wants to lead the charge for less local government. If the Governor wanted to reduce the cost of local government in Newark, Union City, Asbury Park, Passaic, West New York, Paterson, New Brunswick, Elizabeth and similar municipalities with high local government costs, we’d be cheering. But he’s not.

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.

"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."
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.

[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

Cost of Local Government - NJ


At 4:24 PM, Anonymous Paul Nelson said...

I think cities like Newark, Jersey City, Passaic, etc have a relatively low percentage of homeowners, which tends to skew the numbers.

If you look at the cost of local government per capita rather than per homeowner, the numbers are a lot less crazy.

However, your point is valid that these cities receive massive state aid funded by other NJ taxpayers.

At 4:35 PM, Blogger Enlighten said...

Paul, unless people in Newark, etc. are living in tents, everyone is living in a home owned by someone. Call it the cost per housing unit if you prefer, rather than ‘homeowner’ as used by the Star-Ledger.

At 6:39 PM, Anonymous Paul Nelson said...

If the Star Ledger had used housing units rather than homeowners, the computed ratios would have been much different.

In Newark, for example, the government cost per housing unit would only be about 1/3 the SL's cost per homeowner. The numerator doesn't change, but the denominator nearly triples when you include a reasonable estimate for rental housing units (ie, roughly 50,000 rental units in addition to 27,000 homes, covering a total population of 280,000).

The Star Ledger's presentation is basically designed to focus on the residential portion of total property taxes that ultimately leads to an average tax bill per homeowner. However, the SL's cost per homeowner is very misleading because it doesn't allocate any costs to renters.

At 9:11 PM, Blogger Enlighten said...


Oh, you're counting the illegal aliens. Well in that case. ;)

At 1:49 PM, Blogger njgalaxie73 said...

Speaking of illegal immigrants, that "wonderful, comprehensive, bipartisan" immigration reform bill the senate republicrats put together was defeated 60-36. Way to go all of you REAL senate Republicans for seeing this bill for the garbage it was!:-)

Statistics like these just go to show that Democrats are NOT the party for the little guy but the party for keeping the little guy little. In Union City despite all of this state-aid the town receives, 21.4 percent of the population is living below the poverty line. In West New York it's 18.9 and in Newark it's 28.4.

This is one of the biggest reasons why being a tax reform candidate gets you absolutely nowhere in this state. As long as Democrats keep lazy people on welfare fat and happy and get more people to join them, the bigger and more unstoppable the Democrat Machine in New Jersey will grow. By the way young single girls in these towns are dropping babies I can really see that becoming a reality.


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