Category Archives: open-space tax

Colts Neck Candidate Rick Ambrosia’s Message To Voters

To the voters of Colts Neck

Well, the election is nearly upon us now…..

I need you to do two things on November 8th. First and foremost, vote NO on the referendum to have our Open Space Tax fund diverted to the Recreation Department. This is wrong on a number of levels, the least of which is that it would put more funds into the hands of not only the Township Committee to do with as they please, but also in the hands of the Recreation Director. That appointment still can’t pass the smell test. It was given to a former Mayor and Committeeman just because. He had no qualifications and no one else was ever vetted for the position. It was a plum patronage job, that I would suspect, was given to pad a pension. As I said last time, I think the taxpayers and the public would have been better served if we had reached out for resumes and picked the person that was the most qualified instead of the person that received this largesse because he had friends on the Township Committee. Shameful.

Not only that, but at the Township Committee meeting on October 12th, it was revealed that the Township Committee was already preparing to spend those tax funds on the turf from Giants Stadium. They are so confident that the referendum will pass, that they’re already thinking of ways to spend, spend, and spend the dollars that will come their way. So please, vote NO on giving your hard earned tax dollars to the Recreation Director.

The second thing I would like you to do…and there’s no surprise here, is to vote for me with a BULLET vote. There is nothing wrong with voting for only ONE person for Township Committee. This would certainly send a clear message to the elite few that we, as taxpayers, are not going to take it anymore. That they just expect you to vote in favor of diverting the open space funds should tell you where their loyalties lie. And, it’s certainly not with the people that have to pay for their folly. I want to be the eyes, ears and mouth for the regular guy that works hard and pays his taxes. We need someone on the Committee that will fight for us and not just go along to get along.

So, to recap, please VOTE NO on diverting our Open Space Funds to the Recreation Department and VOTE YES for Rick Ambrosia.

Thank you…and remember, you DO have a voice this election day. Go out and be heard and vote.

Rick Ambrosia
Democratic Candidate for Township Committee

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Filed under Colts Neck NJ, Colts Neck Township Committee, Democratic Candidate, open-space tax, political patronage, Rick Ambrosia

>In many N.J. towns that undergo revaluations, homeowners end up paying more open space taxes

>The second NJ.com editorial that caught my eye today was about how NJ open space taxes are effected when municipalities undergo revaluations like Middletown has. Open space taxes are tied into property values and increase proportionally to the value of a property after a revaluation.

I remember during last year’s budget introduction meeting in Middletown, a gentleman brought up this issue and wanted the Township to adjust the rate downward to offset the 14% tax increase which was contained in the budget. I believe his request fell on death ears and nothing was done to make adjustments to the open space tax:

In the nation’s most densely populated state, Garden State residents value their space.

But they may not be so thrilled about what they are paying for it. The reason is a tiny municipal tax for open space — pennies per $100 of a home’s valuation — that, left unchecked, has added up to big bucks in some towns.

The result is homeowners in 50 New Jersey towns have paid out some $15 million more to preserve land, farms and historic and recreational sites than they had in previous years. In one town last year, the tax bills jumped by more than $150 for some homeowners.

The quirk comes into play when towns conduct revaluations. The problem is towns — which make adjustments to prevent other slices of the tax pie from skyrocketing — fail to do the same for the open space tax. Because that tax’s rate is tied to property values, the levy goes up when properties appreciate.

The longer a town goes between revaluations, the more homes are worth and the bigger the bite taken by the open space tax. Last year, for example:

• In Roseland, which underwent a revaluation for the first time since the Nixon administration, the average property assessment climbed 651 percent. That jacked up the open space tax from roughly $25 to nearly $200 for the owner of a home assessed at the borough’s average of about $481,000. The Essex County town’s open space tax levy surged from nearly $95,000 to almost $727,000.

• In Brick, what had been an open space levy of more than $471,000 ballooned by 127 percent to more than $1 million after a revaluation in that Ocean County township.

• In Princeton Borough, leaders tried to avoid a tax hike by spending surplus funds and not replacing several departing workers. But the open space rate wasn’t adjusted before the Mercer County borough’s revaluation, and it raised that part of the average tax bill by $40 from the year before.

“Maybe some people are asleep at the switch,” said Ulrich H. Steinberg, a former director of the state Division of Local Government Services, which provides management and fiscal advice to municipalities. “(Officials) may see the numbers, but they may not understand what the numbers mean. They may not be looking out for what the overall impact is on the residents.”

Over the last five years, 71 New Jersey towns with open space taxes underwent property revaluations. Nearly three-quarters of them failed to adjust their open space tax rates, leading to a 128 percent increase in their combined levies — a windfall of more than $15.5 million. By contrast, municipal taxes in those towns rose an average of 12 percent….

Read more >>> Here and find out exactly “WHAT IS A MUNICIPAL OPEN-SPACE TAX?”

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Filed under Middletown, open-space tax, property tax revaluation, the Star-Ledger

Letter: Middletown budget raises taxes again

The following letter written by a Mr. Warren Houck, appeared in the printed version of the Asbury Park Press last week but for some strange and unknown reason it failed to make the online addition, which has forced me to painstakingly reproduce it here for all to read an comment on:

After the school budget was defeated in Middletown, the budget went to the Township Committee, which ordered more than $2 million in additional cuts.

Now the Township Committee has proposed its budget. Guess how much that budget went up? A little over $2 million. Basically the Township Committee gobbled up the cuts it forced upon the Middletown schools.

The Township is proposing a 13% increase in the tax rate. This increase is on top of a 6% increase last year and a 7% increase the year before. This comes to a three-year average of around 9% per year – all during a time of little or no inflation.

By the way, besides the township rate, the open-space tax has stealthily been increased by more 100%. How? When the entire town was reassessed and the average property value more than doubled, other tax rates were adjusted lower to reflect the reassessment, but the open-space tax stayed at the same rate.

The tax before the reassessment was 0.02 cents per 100 dollars of property value. The tax is still 0.02 cents, but this is after reassessment and after doubling of the typical property value, which causes the typical homeowner now to pay twice the amount towards open-space.

While an open-space tax may be desirable, no one voted to double it. Adjusting this tax back to the level before the town reassessment would save Middletown taxpayers more than $1 million per year.

It is interesting that Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger complains that the Middletown teachers would not agree to a pay freeze, yet the township is not even close to being able to freeze its own budget.

Understandably, the terrible recession we have been through is putting towns in this state into a bind, but the Middletown Township Committee’s members do not seem capable of making the same tough decisions that they dictated to the Board of Education.

Also, with three straight years of huge tax hikes, the committee seems to be in denial about adopting a budget that reflects the current reality.

Warren Houck
Middletown

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, budget cuts, Gerry Scharfenberger, letter to the editor, Middletown Board of Education, open-space tax, pay freeze, tax increase