"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Have You Received Your New Property Tax Bill? We Did.

Picking ourselves up off the floor today after the arrival of the latest property tax bills for three out of the four Enlighten gang members. One bill was up 12.8 percent, another was up 10.4 percent and the other was up 11.2 percent. The total county tax was greater than the municipal tax and the increase in the county tax was greater than municipal tax increase for all members reporting so far. My school tax was up 13.2 percent. Lucky for my neighbors we never had any children to add to the cost structure, which I now realize is why we are so popular around here.

What services do counties provide besides picking up recyclables a couple of times a month? We could live without that service. As each of the municipalities we live in requires residents to arrange and pay privately for garbage removal, undoubtedly something could be worked out where our recyclables could be removed at the same time as our other trash for a modest fee increase.

If ever there was a redundant level of government in New Jersey, it has to be county government. How about we do this? Once someone figures out what the country does, citizens could decide what they’d like to have government continue doing and have those services provided either by the state or the local municipality. Keep the towns, get rid of the counties - now that would be real property tax relief.


At 9:19 AM, Anonymous njcons said...

The only real services I know that the county provides is for county road maintainence and bridge maintainence. Open space at the county level, and county jail. They might also be in charge of county colleges.

County government is, in effect, the regionalzation of services that would not make sense on a town by town basis.

At 3:16 PM, Blogger Honest Abe said...

Actually, Connecticut and I believe several other New England states did abolish counties. I hardly think of New England as a shining example of government efficiency.
njcons said... "County government is, in effect, the regionalization of services that would not make sense on a town by town basis."
Exactly. I can speak only to Monmouth County as to services provided, but it's probably similar in the other counties. They maintain county (regional use) roads, bridges, county parks, the jail, mosquito extermination, vo-tech schools, community colleges, a regional library system, welfare (social services), your deed and mortgage are filed with the county and it's where wills are probated.
In sum, the counties provide a government function which is too local for state government but too regional for local towns.
With all the talk about regionalization of services for efficiency, the counties are a logical template for such regionalization. As to efficiency, that obviously would depend upon the county; I would suspect that Monmouth or Hunterdon would be more efficient than, say, Camden or Essex.

At 8:16 PM, Blogger Ken Adams said...

The problem with complete regionalization at the county level is that you end up with one-size-fits-all solutions for problems that don't exist throughout the county. You also lose flexibility in being able to respond quickly to local situations.
The same is true for the public schools. I live in a K-8 district with 2 schools. My kids know every teacher, and every teach knows who they are, because there are only about 250 kids in the elementary school. More than 80% of the kids in our district walk to school.
Each neighboring town has a similar situation. Regionalizing into a single district wouldn't change the number of kids to be taught, nor would it change the number of teachers to be supervised (and paid). Sure, the administrative cost per pupil might go down ever-so-slightly, but how is that better for the kids?

At 10:59 PM, Blogger Tops in NJ said...

I agree whole heartedly with "Honest Abe". County governments are necessary, "Honest Abe" left out a few services provided at the county level. All felony crimes are tried at the county level. The cost for such a trial could overwhelm the budget of a small community. The county also regionalizes health and Emergency Management.
But let's be realistic. Take a look at your tax bill. What percentage of the tax bill goes to the county. Compare that to the local taxes.....nuff said!

At 1:16 PM, Blogger Dino P. Crocetti said...

I just Read over a press release of Jon Corzine's "plan" to provide immediate property tax relief on Politics NJ. I guess you can throw another one of Corzine's campaign promises out the window. Remember when he said "no gimmicks"?

I really hope that Republicans will make a much better attempt to make themselves relevant on this issue. If they've learned anything from the budget crisis, it's that the media isn't going to come knocking on their door. They need to be very forceful and show that they will not allow themselves to be left out in the cold again.


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