A bill directing energy tax receipts back to municipalities for the purpose of property tax relief deserves more consideration, according to a pair of GOP Assemblymen.
Despite unanimously clearing the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee in January, the bill was yet to be looked at by the Assembly, according to Assemblymen Jay Webber (R-26) and John DiMaio (R-23), who are sponsors of the bill.
“The Senate took the first step in getting this bill across the finish line and I urge the Democrat majority to post it for consideration in the Assembly. It needs to be prioritized, because New Jersey has had the unenviable distinction of having the nation’s highest property taxes year after year,” said Webber, who first authored the legislation with then-Assemblyman and current State Sen. Troy Singleton (D-7) in 2012.
Redirecting Fees Back to Towns
“The measures we passed seek to not only reduce the property tax burden on our families, but provide much needed savings for renters and deserved mortgage relief for homeowners,” said Singleton upon passage by the committee.
Utility companies pay fees for the use of public spaces like power and sewer lines. Sometimes known as public right-of-way, the state collects those fees which enter the Energy Tax Receipts Property Tax Relief Fund to be distributed back to municipalities.
Change in 2008
However, a change in budget language in 2008 allowed the state to divert hundreds of millions of dollars from the fund to general state expenditures.
According to the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, over $14 billion had been diverted from municipalities to state coffers since 2002.
Under the bill, all monies redirected to municipalities would have to be used to lower the local property tax levy, which would in turn lead to lower property tax bills, according to the Assemblymembers.
Part of Affordability Emphasis
DiMaio said it was time for New Jersey to take action, arguing the state was in the midst of an affordability crisis.
He argued billions of dollars meant to provide relief to New Jersey residents had supported “ballooning state budgets,” and that the new bill would ensure aid directly help them via lowered property taxes.
“We must stop the state from spending money that belongs in taxpayers’ pockets. Sky high and increasing property taxes are hurting all of us who call New Jersey home,” he said.
Webber echoed this sentiment, highlighting it as a “common sense solution that has bipartisan support.”