As New York struggles with out-of-control school property taxes -- a crisis that certainly tops the agenda of incoming Governor Eliot Spitzer -- New Jersey, which boasts the highest property taxes per capita in the nation, considers ideas to shift the burden and lower residential property tax loads.
Amount the proposals on the table in the Garden State, as proposed by the Regional Plan Association, are varying the school property tax by State planning areas; collecting all school property taxes at one statewide rate; collecting all school property taxes at a county rate, and consolidating school districts at the county level; substituting half the property tax with an income tax surcharge; spliting the school property tax rate into a higher land tax and a lower tax on buildings and improvements. [Click HERE to read the RPA proposal in its entirety.]
While not claiming to be a panacea, the RPA plan -- which, by the way, acknowleges that property tax "rebates" do noting to stem the tide of ever-increasing school property taxes (something which New York State legislators have apparently yet to grasp -- actually, they do. Their hope is that we don't).
Meanwhile, the New Jersey State Legislature, realizing that the "finger-in-the-dike" approach is not holding back the floodwaters, is considering its options in the war on high property taxes. [SEE, N.J. Property Tax Relief May Be On The Way]
Whatever the outcome in Trenton, all eyes in Albany should keep a keen focus on what happens -- and doesn't happen -- across the Hudson, culling the plans that work and dumping those that don't.
One thing is for sure: New York's Legislature, and soon-to-be Governor Spitzer, dare not sit on either laurels or promises of sugar plums, lest, come this time next year, New York may have the notorious distinction of highest property taxes in the land, with taxpayers' only relief coming in the form of a rubber rebate check that isn't worth the paper its written on.