From the Record:
Property tax bills in New Jersey have gone up 56 percent since 2001. But the rebate checks that once offset those bills by as much 20 percent may vanish this year.
New Jersey households could also be paying even more for schools, trash removal, road maintenance and other local government services – whose costs have grown nearly 70 percent since 2001 – if Governor Christie’s proposed budget clears the state Legislature unchanged.
Christie, who won the November election largely by pledging to lower the state’s property tax burden, wants to trim a combined $2 billion from the state programs that either soften property tax bills through rebates or help local governments cover spending needs with state aid.
In the past two days, Christie’s administration has announced proposed cuts of $123.2 million in aid to Bergen County towns and $80.4 million in aid to Passaic County towns.
The rebate checks would be cut this year even as property tax bills have risen to a record $7,281 statewide. The rebate checks averaged $1,000 in 2007, but they have been reduced several times since — and so have the number of households that qualify for them.
The rebates once were funded with $2 billion, but Christie has proposed cutting the rebates altogether in his budget to save $848 million. Instead he would create a tax credit funded with $270 million.
“We will send you property tax relief, after a break to reform the system, as a direct credit on your property tax bill,” Christie said during his budget address Tuesday.
“The first credits will appear in May 2011, in recognition of the shared sacrifice we all must make,” he said.