March 13, 2016: This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

In New Jersey, municipalities cannot raise money except via property taxes. All other taxes are reserved for the State: Sales, Gasoline, Income are all State taxes.

Republican state legislators and our Republican governor will not raise ANY taxes, lest they contribute to having a functional government. As a result, municipalities are forced to use property taxes to fund most local services. As costs increase (pension funds, increasing cost of health insurance, inflation), municipalities must raise property taxes ever higher just to make a show of "keeping up".

They aren't really keeping up. The roads steadily deteriorate and are just patched endlessly. Dams aren't fixed, so that eventually ponds are just drained because it's cheaper. Portions of my town have no city water and sewer; we're on well water and septic systems. One would think that eventually, city water and sewer would be expaneded to every resident, but there is no money for such an expansion.

If the town raises property taxes enough to keep up with the maintenence, people on a small fixed income (like Social Security) will lose their homes, or be forced to move to a cheaper state.

I remember when the people in this country understood that one has to pay taxes in order to have things like roads and parks (and armies). Now it seems that the idea of paying taxes in order to support all the things we need in common has been replaced by "every man for himself". I wonder if people even wonder why the roads are so crappy, or why bridges fall down. Do they think at all, or are they just Trump voters?

Apropos: D.C. Metro Shuts Down for Unprecedented Safety Inspections

Bill Dudley
New Jersey

back to blog index