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My Response To “High taxes driven by multiplicity of towns” In Today’s Asbury Park Press

Gina Genovese is flat wrong in her assertion that lack of consolidation is the cause of New Jersey’s high taxes. The states that New Jersey residents are fleeing to do have something in common, but it’s not the level of consolidation. In actuality, all these states have less consolidation and more local autonomy than New Jersey permits. The one thing all the low tax refuges have in common is that they have less government.

While consolidation may sound like it increases efficiency, a look at the facts shows no advantage.

Many people from New Jersey move to Pennsylvania, which has much lower property taxes than we do. In Pennsylvania, 78% of the towns have a population of 5000 or under. In New Jersey the figure is 34%. If Ms. Genovese was correct, then New Jersey would enjoy lower taxes than Pennsylvania The numbers are similar for many other states.

Even within Monmouth County there is nothing to show that bigger towns have lower taxes. Below is a chart with all towns in the county listed from largest to smallest and their effective tax rate in 2008.*

Middletown 1.498 Belmar 1.026
Howell 1.864 Fair Haven 1.565
Marlboro 1.701 Oceanport 1.452
Manalapan 1.667 Neptune City 1.695
Freehold Twp. 1.651 Spring Lake Hgts 1.124
Long Branch 1.443 Highlands 1.812
Neptune Twp 1.521 Brielle 1.257
Ocean Twp 1.418 Bradley Beach 1.159
Wall Twp 1.360 Atlantic Highlands 1.589
Hazlet 1.859 Upper Freehold 1.697
Aberdeen 1.987 Monmouth Beach 1.001
Asbury Park 1.438 Shrewsbury Boro 1.727
Holmdel 1.550 Spring Lake 0.615
Tinton Falls 1.497 Avon 0.857
Eatontown 1.717 Sea Girt 0.705
Colts Neck 1.331 Allentown 2.082
Red Bank 1.554 Sea Bright 0.999
Freehold Boro 1.836 Lake Como 1.258
Keansburg 1.868 Englishtown 1.694
Millstone 1.648 Farmingdale 1.628
Matawan 2.194 Shrewsbury Twp 1.982
West Long Branch 1.596 Deal 0.490
Keyport 1.991 Roosevelt 2.294
Rumson 1.132 Interlaken 1.005
Union Beach 1.896 Allenhurst 0.606
Manasquan 1.064 Loch Arbor 0.676
Little Silver 1.616    


The average tax rate for all towns larger than Belmar is 1.626. The average for Belmar and all towns smaller than Belmar is 1.307. Every town larger than Belmar had higher taxes than Belmar. Nine towns smaller than Belmar had lower taxes than Belmar. The numbers are similar state-wide. I would be happy to provide those numbers to anyone who requests them.

 The truth is that small towns have many advantages aside from the great quality of life to be found in them. It is easier to privatize services without union opposition. They can have volunteer fire departments and that small town spirit inspires volunteers to do many jobs that larger towns have to pay people for. They can use part timers and generally pay even their full time staff less. Their budgets are much easier to manage and they have less corruption.

The proponents of consolidation and regionalization are looking to pin the blame for our astronomical taxes everywhere but where it belongs. You can’t have huge government and low taxes. If the state really wants to reduce property taxes it should scrap all the mandates and regulations that it burdens our towns with. I’ve spoken with several mayors about this issue and they all said that state interference in the affairs of our towns was raising, not lowering our local taxes.

If we really want to stem the flow of our most productive people and enterprises to low tax states, let’s emulate what those states are doing and start shrinking government by eliminating state departments and agencies, reducing regulation, and increasing freedom in general. That is the only solution that has been proven to work.

Finally, and most importantly, Americans and particularly New Jerseyans are losing freedom at an alarming rate. The higher up the government ladder that power goes, the less free we are. Our freedom is safer when government power is localized and closer to the people. Consolidation of small towns would be a giant step in the wrong direction and forced consolidation (as the state has contemplated already) would be a violation of our natural right to self-determination.

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