16 Years of County Tax Increases
Friday, September 27, 2013 • 6:20am
If you are a Union County resident you need to ask yourself one simple question. What am I getting from Union County for my tax dollars?
Every year the majority of the municipalities pay an ever increasing portion of their property taxes to Union County. The overall budget and tax levy has been on the increase for over 16 years. Actually, the tax levy on you from the All-Democrat Board of Freeholders has more than doubled since 1996 and the same can be said about the budget.
The average percentage of the current portion of property taxes being paid by municipalities in Union County is about 18%. Simple stated for every $10,000 in property taxes you pay, $1,800 goes to the county.
The township paying the greatest percentage of their property taxes to Union County is Summit with 26%, followed by 25% for Mountainside, 23% for Berkeley Heights, 22% for Westfield, 21% for Clark, 20% New Providence, Cranford, and Kenilworth, 19% for Garwood, Scotch Plains, and 18% for Springfield and Fanwood.
But it wasn’t always like this. In the January 25, 1997, issue of the Westfield Leader, the WL reported the following, “In her report dated January 15, 1997 to the board, Mrs. Baran noted that since 1990, when she was appointed County Manager, the county's reliance on property taxes to pay for its budget has been reduced 17.9 percent. In fact, she estimates that by 1999, the county may actually witness a 2 percent tax reduction, based on current projections. The reliance on property taxes has dropped by 5 percent of the total budget over the past six years. The tax levy was 3.50 percent in 1994 and 2.99 percent in 1995.”
We haven’t heard such great news since then. Keep in mind that was when the Republicans held the majority on the Board of Freeholders and it was bipartisan. In 1997 the county budget was $276.5 million and the tax levy portion was only $152.5 million. Jumping to 2013, the county budget is $493 million and the tax levy portion $317.5 million.
Back in 1997 everything was running smoothly, efficiently, within budget and we had millions in surplus. The Democrats spent the surplus and have continued to raise your taxes ever since. You haven’t heard of the All-Democrat Board of Freeholders reducing taxes let alone forecasting a reduction in taxes two years out.
So back to the original question, what am I getting from Union County for my tax dollars? The All-Democrat Board of Freeholder mismanaged everything they get their hands on from Runnels Hospital and Galloping Hills Golf course to name a couple.
So how do they solve the budget problems they created? Transfer everything to the UnionCounty Improvement Authority or privatize it. The UCIA is exempt from the 2% CAP so they can raise taxes to cover the costs while they pay out $5000 per Union County employee for not taking health insurance offered. By the way, the freeholders all voted for it and took the $5000 opt out, essentially giving themselves a $5000 raise, but it cost you $1.6 million for their generosity along with giving away health benefits for life to non-union employees in exchange of a 0% pay raise for the next three years. So great, but what happens in year 4, 5, 6, and so one. The employees will get a pay raise and still have health benefits for life. Did anyone on the board of freeholders think this one through? The things that make you go hmm.
If you’re Union County resident, regardless of party affiliation, do yourself and your wallet a favor and break up the All-Democrat Board of Freeholders and restore bi-partisanship to your county government.
Thank you for your support and don’t forget to vote on November 5th for Krauss, Martini, and Geiger for Freeholder.
Marc Krauss is a Republican Candidate for Freeholder in Union County.