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N.J. property taxes hit another new high in 2016

Thursday, January 26, 2017   (0 Comments)
Share | 01/26/17

New Jersey's infamously high property tax bills topped $8,500 per home in 2016, a 2.35 percent increase over the previous year, according to figures released Wednesday by the Department of Community Affairs. Property owners paid $8,549  -- $196 more than they did in 2015 when the average tax bill rose about 2.2 percent, according to the analysis. The average residential bill has risen from $8,161 in 2014 to $8,353 in 2015 to $8,549 in 2016.  Each year, the average bill set a new high bar for what Garden State property owners pay.

Essex County property owners were saddled with the highest taxes, at an average of $11,550, followed by Bergen County at $11,311 and Union County at $10,821. Cumberland County taxpayers paid the least, $4,027, according to the state data. Gov. Chris Christie's spokesman Brian Murray said the increases would have been even higher had the Republican governor not instituted a 2 percent cap that took effect in 2011

The state aggressively tightened the cap on local property tax hikes in 2011 after property taxes rose 7 percent each year from 2004 to 2006. However, the rate of increase in 2015 was higher than the previous three years. And based on the latest analysis, there was a similar increase in 2016. The more modest incremental property tax increases over the last several years prove the property tax cap and the cost-saving strategies that went along with it are working, said Michael J. Darcy, executive director for the New Jersey League of Municipalities.

The 2 percent cap on salary increases for police and firefighters reached through arbitration is among "the kinds of things that do make an importance difference," Darcy said.The total amount raised through property taxes, or the tax levy rose by $703 million, the analysis said. More than half of that increase, $377 million, came from school district spending. 

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) agreed school funding was the key to  keeping property taxes under control. "School funding is about a quality education for all children, but it's also about property tax relief," Prieto said. If we can resolve the problem of not fully funding the school funding formula, then we will help ease property taxes for taxpayers throughout the state."


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