file photo by Boyd Loving
JOHN REITMEYER | MARCH 21, 2017
The bad news is that the amount of money available for property-tax relief is shrinking; the good news, there are still a plethora of programs and options available
Once a top priority for government leaders in Trenton, property-tax rebates and other direct-relief programs received nearly $3 billion in funding from the state budget a decade ago.
But this year, with Gov. Chris Christie proposing a $32.5 million reduction in funding for direct property-tax relief in his latest state budget proposal, the total will be just over $1 billion unless lawmakers can convince him to allow for an increase before the next fiscal year begins in July.
The reduction comes as Christie, a second-term Republican, in recent years has instead been using revenue growth to ramp up state contributions to the public-employee pension system, which has been another top priority for Democrats who control the Legislature. Christie has also pointed to his efforts to address property-tax increases at their root, including the 2 percent cap on annual property-tax hikes that he and lawmakers passed on a bipartisan basis in 2010.
Still, data released recently by the state Department of Community Affairs showed the average New Jersey property-tax bill rose to a record high of $8,549 last year, putting new heat on lawmakers to more fully address property taxes as they prepare to run for reelection this year with all 120 legislative seats on the ballot in November.