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Turner Proposes Law To End Tax-Exempt Status On State-Owned Property, Bring Relief To Trenton

Measure Designed to Help Cities Burdened by Lack of Ratables & Rocked By State Aid Cuts

TRENTON – With the city of Trenton poised to lose roughly $43 million in state aid this year, Senator Shirley K. Turner (D-Mercer) today introduced a bill that would require the state to pay its fair share of local property taxes so that residents and businesses are not unduly burdened by the cost of subsidizing state government operations.

“For too long, cities like Trenton have seen progress hampered by a lack of ratables because the biggest property owner is exempt from paying taxes,” said Sen. Turner. “Cities like Trenton and Ewing simply can’t survive these enormous budget cuts, particularly Trenton where roughly 50 percent of its property is state-owned and tax exempt. Without aid relief the city could be facing catastrophic cuts in essential services like police, fire and seniors programs. Much of the aid Trenton has typically seen is not a hand out, but fair compensation for the fact that half the land in the city fails to generate any property tax revenue.”

With a total budget of $215 million, Governor Christie’s proposed $43 million cut in state aid represents a 20 percent axe to the capital city’s budget. Trenton has typically relied on state aid in light of the fact that 53 percent of the city’s land is owned by the state and tax exempt.

In order to remedy this loss, Sen. Turner’s bill would end the tax exempt status of property owned by the state and any of its agencies and authorities beginning on July 1 of this year. Under the proposal, if the state becomes delinquent on the property taxes due for a parcel, then a tax lien would be enforced in the same manner as all other tax liens. Property owned by local units of government would continue to be exempt from property taxes.

“I understand the state’s precarious fiscal situation, but we only have one capital city. We can’t shirk all of our responsibilities to the city that hosts our offices, provides vital services to assist our operations, and gets nothing in return. It’s not fair to the other residents or businesses who are forced to shoulder the entirety of the tax burden.”

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