Fiscal Stress: It’s Not Just A Big City Problem

By Henry A. Coleman

FOREWORD By Jon Shure, NJPP President

Stereotypes, whether they deal with people, places or problems, are dangerous and misleading. They divert attention away from real needs and real solutions. So it is with the issue covered by this report. Too often when we think of places where quality of life is threatened by the spiral of rising taxes and declining services, cities come to mind – aging, rundown, unappealing cities.

It is important to know that many other places in New Jersey – including some that on the surface appear to be thriving – face the same conditions that have been so brutal for the cities. Those conditions, as the report points out, include in large measure over-reliance on property taxes as a system to pay for local government. By seeing this bigger picture we can understand more clearly that no one in New Jersey is immune from the situation outlined below. This is “our” problem, not “their” problem. The sooner we see this, the sooner we can start to debate and develop solutions for ridding New Jersey of the ticking time bomb of fiscal stress.

While other work by NJPP on property tax issues has dealt with how best to provide relief for overburdened individual homeowners and renters, this report focuses more on the impact that municipalities – of all sizes and complexions – feel from the system. NJPP is indebted to Henry A. Coleman for an analysis that helps to advance the day when New Jersey comes together to face up to what needs to be done.

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