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City of Jersey City

BretSchundler
Mayor
Office of the Mayor
August 24, 2000

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

STATEMENT BY THE MAYOR
"Better late than never," says Mayor Schundler in response to the $400 million "Property Tax Relief Now" program Senator DiFrancesco announced today.

Jersey City
Early last year, the State League of Municipalities and I introduced legislation that would reverse cuts in revenue sharing between the State and New Jersey's municipalities, and index all future revenue sharing dollars to the rate of inflation. In a time of unprecedented State surpluses, we thought the least Trenton could do was to reverse the cuts of the past to lessen the property tax burden on our homeowners. Over 400 mayors, along with tens of thousands of taxpaying citizens, expressed their support for our legislation, "The Real Property Tax Relief Act" (S-850/A-1944). This legislation was introduced, but never even made its way into committee. At the time, we were informed by the legislative leadership that our $328 million dollar piece of legislation was simply too expensive, so it was never scheduled for a hearing.

In light of the efforts of the past year from the League and scores of mayors in support of the "Real Property Tax Relief Act," Senator DiFrancesco has hastily fashioned a property tax relief program that is more expensive than our own. I say 'better late than never.' While I am pleased that the Senate President has suddenly found the means within the State budget for property tax relief, I question the manner in which it is to be provided.

Property taxes are high in New Jersey largely because Trenton continues to increase its own spending well beyond the rate of inflation, while decreasing the revenues it sends back to our cities and towns. While his proposal increases the Legislative Block Grant Program, the lion's share of the Senate President's plan expands the homeowner rebate check programs. While increased rebate checks may work politically, the State would do better to stop sending the checks and instead use the money to directly lower property taxes. Why overtax homeowners, and then go through the administrative nightmare of returning a portion of the taxes they just paid in the form of a rebate? Instead of worrying about who gets the credit for cutting property taxes, why not focus on making sure that the State restores its past cuts so that property taxes don't go up in the first place. We wouldn't need $400 million in property tax cuts now if the State had been doing this all along.

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