From the Star Ledger:
Are many New Jersey residents actually paying less in property taxes than they were five years ago?
The state’s sky-high property taxes crossed the $8,300 threshold in 2015 as New Jersey residents continue to get smacked with the highest real estate rates in the nation.
However, a NJ Advance Media analysis of statewide property tax data has found that property taxes in 42 percent of municipalities increased at less than the rate of inflation from 2010 to 2015.
During that time, the average statewide property tax bill rose about 10 percent, from $7,576 to $8,353. When accounting for inflation, which rose about 9 percent, the property tax bills rose slightly more than 1 percent.
But 237 municipalities, that are home to nearly 46 percent of the state’s population, kept their tax increases below the rate of inflation.
NJ Advance Media analyzed municipal tax figures going back 15 years and found that, when adjusted for inflation, the impact of property tax relief relief measures enacted during Gov. Chris Christie’s first term — including strict caps on local spending and public worker arbitration rewards — is clear.
Property taxes rose 1 percent when adjusted for inflation from 2010 to 2015 after soaring 35 percent, after inflation was taken into account, from 2000 to 2010, the analysis found.
Data show only five municipalities — Teterboro, Pemberton, Woodbine, Lebanon and Union City — kept tax bills lower in 2015 than in 2000, after inflation.
Christie spokeswoman Joelle Farrell noted that during Christie’s first six years, property tax growth “has slowed to an annual average of 1.97 percent, dramatically lower than the 7 percent yearly average in the 10 years before the Christie administration.”
“You have to ask yourself, where would New Jersey’s property taxes be if not for the governor’s reforms,” Farrell said. “If annual average increases continued at a rate of 7 percent for the past six years?”
Michael Darcy, executive director of the New Jersey League of Municipalities said the 2 percent spending cap enacted by Christie helped, but reforms to public worker benefits and the arbitration cap made it possible for local officials to rein in some costs.
“I think it is safe to say that overall the escalation of property taxes has been significantly curtailed compared to historic trends,” said Darcy.