Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Democratic nominee for the Morris County Board of Freeholders speaks against a tax increase the body is considering.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Morris County’s Board of Freeholders is currently considering a tax increase in the second half of 2011 or steep budget cuts for 2012. Board finance subcommittee chairperson Margaret Nordstrom’s panel has suggested a solution that has to infuriate every hardworking resident of Morris County: increase taxes by 1.92 percent and cut services to find a needed $3 million for operating costs. What makes this approach especially reprehensible and unwise is that the Morris County budget has a $19.2 million surplus. Why would anyone suggest increasing taxes with a $19.2 million surplus? It’s time for Morris County residents to say, “Enough is enough.” The tax rate has increased every year for the past decade in the county. The increase from 2000…
Thursday, July 21, 2011
'I am not going to gamble with the people's money,' said board member Gary Martin.
Following an intense debate at a special workshop meeting Wednesday night, the Parsippany Board of Education voted 8-1 to use $1,256,153 in additional state aid for schools as property tax relief. This means property owners will see a reduction in their fourth quarter tax bills. Last week, Gov. Chris Christie surprised many with his announcement of additional to schools across New Jersey. He gave school districts until July 19 to designate the funding to go back to taxpayers, then allowed extensions whose lengths would be determined by municipalities. Board President Frank Calabria said he talked with the mayor's office and the county tax board and won an extension of "a day or two." Board member Sharif Shamsudin moved to use the money to…
Monday, June 27, 2011
The state's fiscal mess is mostly not their fault.
Over the last few weeks, the battle over New Jersey public employee pensions and health benefits has been fierce. Last week, the workers wound up the losers. The issues often are portrayed as simple ones—the unions are bullies who strong-armed state or local employers to get cushy perks for their members, or the governor and Legislature are the bullies stealing hard won benefits and collective bargaining rights from poor workers. It’s actually much more complicated than that. Way back 20 or 30 years ago, there was pretty much no doubt that New Jersey’s public workers on a whole were low-paid compared with people in the private sector. If you went to work in a public job, it was for the benefits, particularly for a good pension. Then came …
Monday, June 20, 2011
You can be nosey, or you can use the data to become a better citizen.
Last week, the New Jersey Department of Education released its database of school salaries. This has become an annual rite, usually at the end of or soon after the end of the school year. The information includes years of experience, educational degrees, job titles and, of course, the salary for every professional public school employee in the state. That means teachers, principals, superintendents, librarians, guidance counselors and others. It provides fodder for news stories. It gives citizens specifics about how tax dollars are being spent. And it ticks off more than a few educators who are appalled that their salaries are being publicized for their neighbors, friends and all the world to see. Used to be, pre-Internet, newspapers would…
Monday, May 23, 2011
The new Taxpayers' Guide to Education Spending is not the best place to find an answer.
Now it’s really on. The Christie administration kicked its anti-education spending campaign into high gear last Friday with the release of the Taxpayers’ Guide to Education Spending. This revised version of the Comparative Spending Guide that the state Department of Education has been releasing for more than a decade changes the way total spending is calculated to make it appear districts are spending almost a third more than in the past. Released Friday afternoon, the guide’s total per-pupil cost includes, for the first time, the money the state contributes on behalf of districts for teachers’ pension and social security payments. That’s an odd decision, given the state has paid the employer contribution to the Teachers Pension and …