From the Star Ledger:
Gov. Chris Christie today told a hospitable audience at the Caldwell Community Center that after school funding, the duplication of municipal services is most responsible for high property tax bills.
Christie said he understands each town values its unique character, but pointed to Princeton Township and Princeton Borough’s recent decision to consolidate. The state will pick up the transition costs for the first year to encourage more towns to merge. “If you wonder why your property taxes are so high,” he said, “the next culprit after school funding is this proliferation of repetition, everybody having a CFO, everybody having a business administrator.”
Christie said New Jerseyans have a tough time choosing between forms of government and delivery of services, and that adds up across 566 municipalities: “Should we have civil service or collective bargaining? Yes. Should we have municipal government or county government? Yes, we’ll have both of them.”
The Republican governor said forthcoming legislation from Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) would call for shared services and in some cases implement penalties. “All the taxpayers in the state shouldn’t be subsidizing the fact that you just don’t feel like sharing the service of garbage collection with the neighboring town,” Christie said.
Turning to the highest drain on tax dollars, Christie said the state spends roughly $11 billion on education with 63 percent doing to 31 school districts and again took aim at the state Supreme Court. He said spending has little bearing on student achievement.“We spend more than a third of the state budget on aid to schools,” he said.
From the Star Ledger:
An initiative to consider consolidating Hunterdon’s 28 school districts into one, K – 12 county-wide district, has run into opposition from Lebanon Borough Council.
The county-wide proposal originated with a resolution adopted by Raritan Township Committee, and supported by then-mayor John King and county Freeholder Rob Walton.
Lebanon Borough Council has responded with its own resolution and, as with Raritan Township, the borough seeks other municipalities and school boards to adopt similar ones.
“Lebanon Borough cannot support these efforts as currently articulated because they do not address the well-known and widely documented underlying causes of our high property tax burden, low state aid,” reads a letter addressed to mayors, freeholders and school boards and signed by the Mayor and Council of Lebanon Borough. “Further, it will impose a significant additional tax burden on thirteen of the twenty six municipalities in Hunterdon County,” the letter reads. It also says that the proposed plan would risk the quality of education.