Category Archives: high taxes

An Open Letter to Middletown Residents From Carol Fowler

I am a mother of two whose family goes back four generations in Middletown and whose children were educated in our Middletown schools. For the first time in my family’s history, I see families being priced out of our Township, because of our soaring taxes. As our incomes have remained flat, we have seen steady, significant municipal tax increases exceeding 40% in the last 6 years. If you believe every municipality has experienced these increases, think again. While many of our surrounding towns have had minimal or no increases in taxes, over the last six years, our elected officials have burdened our citizens with a dramatic tax increase unmatched by our surrounding communities. Many members of the next generation of Middletown children cannot afford to live here. Poor management of our local government produced these unnecessary tax hikes. I am running for office to reverse this trend.

We must start by reducing taxes by cutting our debt, which has mushroomed over the last decade under the current regime from $48million to $72 million. Over the last decade, our Township Committee has overspent its way through an $8 million dollar Arts Center, bonded for $2.5 million for turf fields for our kids that disappeared somewhere in the Town’s budget, and paid the same politically connected engineering firm to work on every Township engineering project without competitive bidding for the last 30 years or more.
We must also cut spending, consolidate services with the Board of Education and neighboring towns and look for partnerships with private and non-profit entities. We must continue the trend initiated by the efforts of my Democratic predecessors Sean Byrnes and Patrick Short to privatize more of our brush collection, and open up our professional contract awards to competitive bidding. For the last few decades, I’ve been an executive officer of our volunteer first aid squad. I’ve recorded many business meetings and, when a purchase is necessary, three bids are sought and then voted on. Why can’t our Town do the same for professional services that cost taxpayers well over $1,000,000 per year?
These steps are easy to grasp, but have eluded the current regime, because these steps would threaten the cozy, lucrative relationship enjoyed by the professionals retained by our elected officials to serve this Township. You may not be aware of how your Township is being run, because the Township Committee steadfastly refuses to televise its meetings. If you visit the websites of similar-sized or even smaller municipalities (e.g. East Brunswick, Rahway), you will find complete coverage of their regular meetings, where any citizen who wants to can see how their tax dollars are being spent. What do we have to hide? How come we broadcast events form the Arts Center, concerts in our parks, but not our Town meetings?
Walking our township, I’ve seen with my own eyes that we have seniors who can barely afford to purchase food, as well as victimized homeowners who lose everything when a tropical storm sweeps through, with no solution in place to their long time flooding predicament. Our town’s Senior Center has a very good food program, yet the recreational side of it is not as attractive to seniors, who pay a nominal non-resident fee to attend the more enjoyable Keyport Senior Center. Why can’t we have equally attractive senior programs at our own Center?
I want to restore this town to what it was — a reliable and affordable place to live. But I also insist that we keep in step with what our neighboring communities offer to residents. Our recreational facilities and our overall Recreation Department lag far behind the thoughtfully planned recreational centers available to resident of townships far smaller than Middletown. When elected leaders take your hard-earned money for taxes, you need to know that they will spend it wisely. The current regime has failed miserably, and I hope you will consider a vote for change.
Carol Fowler
Middletown Democratic Candidate for Township Committee

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Filed under Arts Center, bonding debt, Brookdale Democratic Club, Carol Fowler, high taxes, letter to the editor, Middletown Township Committee, Senior Center, televised meetings

As A Matter Of Fact…Tax Them And They Leave? Apparently NOT


August 4th, 2011 | Published in NJPP Blog: As a Matter of Fact …

By Mary E. Forsberg

In 2008, 16,000 New Jersey taxpayers earned $1 million or more. That’s more than in any year before or since 2001 with only one exception – the boom year 2006. In that year, 18,400 New Jersey taxpayers earned more than $1 million. In the following year, only 15,900 taxpayers earned more than $1 million but their average income was $3.5 million, the highest average in any year to date. The numbers tell many stories. Did 2,400 high income people leave New Jersey between 2006 and 2008? Or was their income simply subject to the vagaries of Wall Street and the economy?

Anecdotes abound: So-and-so has a house in New Jersey and one in Florida and decided to call Florida his residence to avoid paying any state income tax (Florida has none). No one knows how often this happens.

Some things, however, are known.

According to data compiled over more than 20 years by the Internal Revenue Service, the average household income of those who move to New Jersey from other states is higher than that of households leaving New Jersey for other states.

Three states (New York, Pennsylvania and Florida) consistently account for the highest number of households moving into and out of New Jersey from elsewhere in the United States.

IRS data analyzed by NJPP in 2003 found no correlation between tax increases or cuts and movement into or out of New Jersey. It was not uncommon for the number of people coming to New Jersey the year after an income tax increase to exceed the number leaving or for the number leaving the year after a tax cut to exceed the number coming in. Further, in most years it was the case that both the number coming and leaving rose and fell in tandem.

A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “Tax Flight is a Myth: Higher State Taxes Bring More Revenue, Not More Migration,” provides an up-to-date rigorous examination of the unproven claims that tax hikes drive large numbers of households – particularly the most affluent – to other states. It concludes the following:

Migration is not common. Just 1.7 percent of U.S. residents per year moved from one state to another between 2001 and 2010.
The migration that is occurring is more likely to be driven by cheaper housing than by lower taxes. The difference between housing costs in two different states is often many times greater than the difference in taxes.

Recent research shows income tax increases cause little or no interstate migration. New Jersey is used as an example in two different studies examined in the report. The first, conducted by Stanford University sociologists, estimated the migration effect of New Jersey’s 2004 tax increase on filers with incomes exceeding $500,000. The authors found that net out-migration did increase for those in that income group but it also increased for those with lower incomes – and by virtually the same amount. The second report which was commissioned by the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce found that most of the people included in the study who were moving from New Jersey had less than $500,000 a year in taxable income so would not have been subject to New Jersey’s highest 8.97 percent marginal tax rate. Despite this, the governor continues to claim this study as evidence of a tax-migration effect.

Low taxes can prevent a state from maintaining the kind of high-quality public services that people value, such as good schools, mass transit, cultural facilities and recreational opportunities.

Policymakers need honest and accurate information about the implications of tax increases and tax cuts in order to address the challenging fiscal and economic circumstances that most states continue to face. State policy makers should not let false claims about taxes and migration shape their decisions.

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Filed under As a Matter of Fact, Florida, high taxes, New Jersey, New Jersey Policy Perspective, public service quality of life, tax migration