Poll: Half of New Jerseyans Want to Leave

By Michael Hill

Aubrey Feller bought a house in Keyport nine years ago.

She recently contacted to move back to New York.

Aubrey says her property taxes inexplicably have risen from $5,000 to nearly $8,000.

“I have no idea because we haven’t made any improvements to the house. Matter fact my house is worth less than what it was when I purchased it a lot less, half of what I paid for it,” said Feller.

Feller was not among the 800 New Jerseyans in the Monmouth University poll showing half of those surveyed want to leave New Jersey because of high property taxes and the high cost of living.

For years and even decades, the New Jersey State League of Municipalities has been urging state lawmakers to deal with rising property taxes here, but the issue has eluded real reforms. So the past 10 years the league has been calling for citizens to take action.

“In New Jersey, the property tax accounts for 98 percent of all revenues that municipalities have at their disposal to pay for the broad spectrum of programs and services that they are required to pay for under law. That’s way out of whack,” said New Jersey State League of Municipalities Executive Director William Dressel.

“There is a problem and I say that since everything else has failed, engage the public in a citizens convention. Let the people who paid the bills make decisions as to how we’re going to fund government,” Dressel said.

“I hope it’s a wake up call to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle,” said Assemblyman Anthony Bucco.

Deputy Assembly Republican leader Bucco says the issue goes beyond just property taxes. He’s sponsored a bill that targets New Jersey’s estate tax — to raise the threshold from $675,000 to $5 million.

“The wealthy have the ability to hire accountants, hire lawyers to shelter their income. They have the ability to move if they need to, so that they can avoid some of these taxes. It’s the middle class tax payer that really gets hit the hardest,” said Bucco.

“To get at the knob of the issue, there is not a real will to deal with that. Or if there would have been we wouldn’t be having this interview as we speak,” said Dressel.

Dressel says what will happen next with property taxes relies on citizens because lawmakers have not shown the will to address New Jersey’s highest in the land property taxes.