New Jersey’s accountants are telling Gov. Phil Murphy that he should make cutting property taxes his top priority during his second term.
The New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJCPA) conducted a survey of its more than 900 CPAs prior to the gubernatorial election in which Murphy won a tight re-election race against Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli.
The survey results placed cutting property taxes as the New Jersey CPAs’ top priority. Coming in second was tackling overspending and waste in New Jersey’s government agencies. Improving the state’s infrastructure ranked third. Accounting professionals additionally said the governor should focus on reforming the state’s public worker pensions system and reducing business regulations.
“New Jersey holds the unenviable title of having the highest property taxes in the nation,” the accountants’ group said in a Nov. 15 document outlining its priorities for the New Jersey governor. “In some instances, property tax becomes homeowners’ largest expense, totaling almost half of their gross income. For most, this is only sustainable by having two incomes.”
NJCPA members said lower property taxes would enable New Jersey to retain residents and encourage young people finishing college to return and set down roots in the Garden State by keeping home ownership costs down.
Additionally, the group’s members said lower state property taxes would attract more businesses “to start and stay in New Jersey.”
Murphy’s Second Term
Murphy said Nov. 18 that his administration slowed property tax increases over the last four years, but he hoped to turn small property taxes into property tax decreases during his second term in office. The governor made his statements while giving the keynote address at the New Jersey State League of Municipalities convention in Atlantic City.
Accountants who responded to NJCPA’s survey offered specific recommendations for how to accomplish the priorities.
To bring down property taxes, the group recommended consolidating police, fire, and school system services among neighboring towns. Moreover, the accountants called for cutting school administration costs by having a lead administrator per district, but no superintendent. Members additionally urged the state to require all school districts to use the same curriculum to ease planning and save money on bulk buying.
Strategies to Rein in Government Spending
NJCPA took aim at New Jersey’s annual budget of $46.4 billion for fiscal year 2022, a 30% increase from former Gov.r Chris Christie’s last budget four years ago.
“NJCPA members believe a streamlining of state programs must occur otherwise the state will no longer be affordable for current as well as future taxpayers,” the group said.
Having state agencies audited for overspending and waste would bring about more accountability and encourage ways to reduce spending, the accounting group added.
Audit State Budget
Recommendations in the document included conducting a technology audit and upgrading systems to save money and improve efficiency. NJCPA additionally urged the state to statutorily allocate funds for a multi-year state technology upgrade plan.
Moreover, the group said New Jersey should identify and eliminate duplicate government roles and unneeded positions and privatize some government services.
“Whether structural, technological or consulting, having the state team with private industry could provide more private jobs and reduce expenses,” NJCPA said.
These numbers crunchers live in an alternative universe if infrastructure comes in 3rd. Their money saving suggestion for consolidating services among neighboring towns indicates with their noses in the books they’ve not been paying attention: every time the people who whine about high taxes get offered such a consolidation plan they reject it. Ultimately NJ residents prefer great rapid response “home town” police,fire and 911 service, among the nation’s best schools and teachers and top notch facilities. We love having these. We just don’t love paying for it but we do, unlike our red state “socialist taker” friends who do have low taxes and low teacher pay and old books and yet still take NJ money from the Federal government to make their meager ends meet.
Please consider downloading the state pension database. It shows the staggering and COLA-ever-growing pension load we all pay. Pension kiting and last-three-years overtime abuse are a fine art for our public employees. Last time I checked our teachers and public safety people don’t even pay for Medicare. I agree that the hard part is convincing voters that efficiency pays because NJ safety and teaching employees have powerful lobby groups. Public safety union contracts are also bulletproof but the shared services idea may whittle the numbers going on boondoggle pensions over time.