Would Prevent Towns From Moving Certain Spending Items Out Of The Cap
TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney that would help insulate property taxpayers from efforts by local officials to make end runs around the state’s 2 percent cap cleared the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today.
“’User fees’ are just a cleverly conceived way to hide from folks that their taxes are going up yet again. The property tax cap was put in place to prevent these kinds of things from happening. It is not there so that local officials can find new and creative ways to get around it,” said Sweeney (D-Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem).
The bill, S-1914, would prevent local officials from moving spending items traditionally covered by the property tax levy, like trash collection, off the property tax bill into a “user fee” to get around the state’s 2 percent property tax cap. Instead, services shifted from a property tax base to a “user fee” base would continue to be counted as part of the cap.
Since the enactment of the 2 percent cap in 2010, seventeen New Jersey municipalities have gone to referendum asking voters to override the cap, with several of those attempts tied to the creation of a new “user fees” to fund services that would be taken off the property tax bill if the vote failed, but would continue to be publicly provided as they were before. Current law isn’t clear about prohibiting this practice. The Senate President’s bill would make it clear that any services that get shifted out of the property tax base to a user fee are still subject to the 2 percent cap.
“Hard working families in this state need a break. They are already, on average, paying 20 percent more in property taxes under this administration. They don’t need their property taxes increased in other ways. When we eliminate these kinds of loopholes and implement our proposed 10 percent property tax cut, we are going to start to see real relief for New Jersey’s middle class,” added Sweeney.
The bill now heads to the Senate floor.