Caught between Governor Christie's cuts in state aid and former Governor Corzine's 4% property tax increase cap, Camden Mayor Dana Redd has determined that the city must immediately cut spending by 24% with deeper cuts possible should the state decline an application for $51 million in discretionary aid, according to an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
In Newark, Mayor Cory Booker is facing a $70 million deficit. He has proposed that the city create an independent authority to take over the Newark water system so that he can borrow $233 million to plug deficits in the next two budgets. The Newark City Council is not going along with him, so far.
The Star Ledger reports that even if Booker gets his gimmick that property taxes will rise 7%. Without the $233 million cash infusion, which would be paid back with water fees instead of taxes, that property taxes would increase 37%, 350 police and firefighters would be laid off, the 1450 non-uniformed city workforce would have a four day work week, and the city's pool, summer day camps and toilet paper budgets would be eliminated. Private companies have stepped up to manage the pools and provide the toilet paper.
As painful as it is, it is good to see New Jersey's largest cities confronting reality and reducing their bloated governments.
New Jersey's suburban and rural townships and boroughs need to do the same. Double digit property tax increases are unacceptable in communities that have seen their property taxes rise 70% in the last ten years. The time to cut spending is now for municipal entities who have not passed a budget yet, not next year after the "tool kit" is passed.
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