Bill Comes After Christie Deleted Data from Website that Highlights Net Property Tax Hike under His Watch
(TRENTON) - Legislation Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Pamela Lampitt, Annette Quijano and Elian Pintor Marin sponsored to require the state to annually post complete property tax data was approved 32-2 Monday by the Senate.
The bill comes after the Christie administration this year deleted property tax data traditionally found on the Department of Community Affairs web site. The information detailed Christie's cuts to property tax relief that have resulted in a net property tax increase of about 20 percent.
The bill (A-3223) would require the Division of Local Government Services in the Department of Community Affairs to post on its Internet web page a summary of property tax data for the current calendar year, and for each of the immediately preceding 10 calendar years.
In each year, the data provided must include, but not be limited to, the amount of the average residential property tax bill for each municipality, the amount of the average homestead credit payment credited against the average property tax bill and the net average residential property tax bill, which would be the remainder of the average residential property tax bill minus the average homestead credit payment.
"Hiding or deleting vital property tax information is not the right way to govern," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "The public deserves the right to all relevant information, and this bill will help to inform the public at large, and local property taxpayers individually, about the components of their property tax bills, and to illustrate to the public that local spending decisions directly affect local property taxes."
"This would also help local property taxpayers compare how well their local units of government are doing against local units in other parts of the state," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "Just as importantly, it would force the executive branch to stand behind their decisions on property tax relief, whether it's good news or bad news."
"Open and honest government is paramount," said Quijano (D-Union). "It's unacceptable for the administration to try to hide information that reflects poorly on its own decisions and storylines. The more information provided, the better it is for taxpayers."
"Less information is never better," said Pintor Marin (D-Essex). "When it comes to taxpayer spending, more information is a required must. No one should hide from their decisions to cut property tax relief. Transparency is always the better option."
The Assembly in September passed the measure unanimously, but because of an amendment must reconsider the bill before it's sent to the governor.