With frustrations running high on such a sensitive issue during a troubled economy, the conversation around many dinner tables, water coolers, and break rooms is the ever escalating costs of property taxes in New Jersey. With this issue striking such a sensitive nerve, many politicians have leaped onto this bandwagon and have used it to further their own agenda regardless of the validity or impact of their solutions.
There are however a few hard to dispute realities regarding property taxes. Sure we can all criticize the appropriations of them, or those who manage them. But the fact remains that property tax is designed to serve a purpose, a greater purpose than the homeowner, business, or corporate needs. Property taxes date back to the year 1670 in the State of New Jersey, and their purpose was and still is to run local governments, pay for education, and public improvements. A history compiled by the New Jersey State League of Municipalities published a short history that can be accessed here.
For reasons that can be debated, the current Government in New Jersey has focused their attention on attacking the backbone of municipal life as the root and cause of the property tax burden it has become. Firefighters, police, and educators have become the focus and fallen in direct line with the finger pointing. But a closer look at the details will tell a different story. In almost every municipality in the state of New Jersey, the cost of a career Fire Department with all of it's firefighters, EMTs, firehouses, apparatus, fuel, maintenance, equipment, salaries, pensions, and medical benefits cost each taxable household on average less that the price of your monthly cable bill, or your monthly cell phone bill, or even your indulgent daily Caffe Late.
The NJFMBA has created, NJpropertytaxfacts.com, a website that compiles budget information for municipalities across the state. Visit this site to find out how little of your property tax bill is spent on your local Fire and EMS service compared to some of your other daily expenses. The Fire and EMS service in your community and all the money spent of employing them is NOT driving up the costs of your taxes. Nor do we believe that the other civil servants in your community are driving up the property taxes. It's time to tackle a closer look at the facts and decide for yourself.