Most of us are familiar with the parable of the boiled frog: the notion that a frog when thrown into a boiling pot of water will leap out to safety, but if placed in a warm pot and slowly brought to a boil, will allow itself to be cooked. This is very analogous to how we deliver, and more importantly pay for local government services in New Jersey. Certainly, no one 10 years ago would wake up one morning and find themselves paying what we now pay for schools, towns and county services and not demand an immediate fix. Yet, slowly but surely, like a pot boiling, property taxes in Hunterdon has risen 64% from an average of $4,930 in 2000 to $8,091 in 2010 (APP).
Of the many solutions, tax type reform, shared services, regionalization, reallocation from municipalities to the county, the most extreme solution may be consolidation. That is the topic of our next Sharing Services Seminar on Thursday, April 7, 2011 at the Hunterdon County Complex, Building One on Route 12 in Raritan Township at 7:30PM. Our two program speakers will address what they believe is the source of our problem, Multiple Municipal Madness, to quote the book’s title and that we in New Jersey need the Courage to Connect and consolidate our municipalities. This session is for taxpayers all; elected officials, concerned citizens, public employees, volunteer first responders, etc.
We will also introduce a new tool we hope will help in the analysis of the cost savings from sharing, regionalization, reallocation, or consolidation, the Hunterdon Municipal Database. This database is a compilation of taxing and spending by all 26 municipalities in Hunterdon County. It allows all of us to make some rough estimates about the savings potential from the various possible solutions to reduce property taxes in our county. For more information on sharing in Hunterdon County, please go to our website http://www.co.hunterdon.nj.us/sharedservices.htm.
On Behalf of the Hunterdon Shared Services Working Group,
Freeholder Rob Walton