Jersey City has been benefited from its location, transportation infrastructure and a lot of prime developable land. What it has lacked is competent government to make the most of our strengths and minimize the impact of our weaknesses. While Jersey City has been growing, much of that growth has been driven by local and state subsidies.
The day of reckoning is coming to Jersey City. PILOTS (payments in lieu of taxes) from tax abatements have been used for far too long as a crutch for the city budget. They’ve created immense distortions in the local economy and tax base while failing to pay our fair share for our schools. Combine this with the long-postponed property tax revaluation, there’s going to be a massive tax shock awaiting JC taxpayers in the coming months.
The city successfully delayed the property tax revaluation that continued a gross disparity in having poor non-whites paying significantly higher tax rates than wealthier whites. Now with the delay, the cost to taxpayers has approached $5m which includes the cost of the wasted original reval, the higher cost of the actual reval and legal expenses incurred through the process of fighting it. Add to that, some owners have lost out of four years of property tax savings while those who will see increases now have substantially higher assessments. We all lost.
This has occurred while the city, rather than become more efficient has expanded spending at the rate of 5% per year.
What comes next? Jersey City needs to focus on a host of challenges and problems that include financial stability, modernization of services and resources, improving all forms of mobility, and rational development.
When selecting candidates to vote for this year try to look deeper to see they have the intellectual capability to understand and dig into the issues, look at their history to see if you believe that they have the fortitude to stand their ground and break with their team if necessary. We have been disappointed for so long, so choose deliberately and wisely.
Thank you for reading,