Like those property tax bills. What's not to love about getting a $300 to $500 increase over your last quarterly tax bill. You may console yourself by rationalizing that this is only a one-time deal because future bills will have this charge spread across four quarters rather than given out in a single quarter.
While technically this is true, because the extra taxes covers $13 million per year that was going to be allocated to the city budget from the sale of the water works, technicalities don't count much in the real world. Other things often come up that get in the way of them, like the governor's proposed budget.
The Governor plans to cut "aid" to the city by $42 million for the year starting in July. I put aid in quotes, because to most of us that means assistance or charity. In other words, we are supposed to think of Trenton as a beggar city that is getting a freebie from the state.
Not so fast! Much of the $42 million is something called "payment in lieu of taxes" or money that is given to the city instead of property taxes. Because the state is a higher governmental unit than the city, the city really can't force the state to pay property taxes on its buildings. In the past, the state always paid the city a portion of what it would have to pay for its buildings if it was a private company. That money is called "payment in lieu of taxes".
Governor Christie believes this payment is voluntary and he plans not to donate this year. That means we are going to get whacked with another $42 million shortfall on top of the $13 million we just got hit with. Get prepared to get whacked with another mammoth tax increase just like the one we got this May. Only this time, it will occur every quarter instead of just once!
Christie makes a lot of the virtues of private industry and how government workers sponge off the state instead of working like their private sector counterparts. I say it is time for the governor to man up and pay up. He should agree to pay city property taxes on 100% of the assessed value of its property in the city. That is what you and I have to do. That is what a private company has to do. What makes him so special anyway.
Senator Shirley Turner posted a bill to force the state to do just that. It gives the city the power to seize the state's buildings and parking lots if it doesn't pay up like everybody else. Write the other state senators and assemblymen to get a similar bill posted in the Assembly and get both bills out of committee so they can go to a full floor vote.
In the meantime, hold onto your seat and prepare for a $1,500 per quarter tax bill this August.