DISTRICT UNION COUNTY
TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION?
Summit residents pay more county property taxes than any other municipality in Union County (on a per household basis) and as a municipality, represent the county's second largest taxpayer overall. Despite this, there is currently no representation of Summit in Union County's government (Board of Chosen Freeholders). That's because Union County's freeholders are all elected "at-large" instead of being elected to represent various parts of Union County. In a county as diverse as ours, it's only fair that at least some representatives actually represent specific portions of the county. Every legislative office in our state (even for Common Council here in Summit) is apportioned by district or ward—why should county government be any different?
Union County is the only county in the state with a nine-member freeholder board elected entirely "at-large." Having at least a few freeholders elected by district (like every other similarly situated county in the state) would bring desperately needed accountability to our county government. For now, the freeholders are insulated by "at-large" voting which makes it nearly impossible to hold them to account each election cycle.
Say no to taxation without representation and support our efforts to district Union County's Freeholder Board.
OPEN SPACE TAX
OPEN SPACE TRUST FUND OR SLUSH FUND?
In 2001, Union County asked voters to approve the creation of the Open Space, Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, to be funded by a new tax, called the Open Space Tax. When voters approved of this new tax, they did so on the assumption that the tax would be temporary and that the trust fund money would only be spent on trust fund projects. Voters believed this because that's what the county told them.
The original intent was to preserve 100 acres of land, which we did in the program's first several years. Then the goalposts were moved and the stated goal became preservation of 300 acres of land, which we did several years after that. But starting in 2011, the county essentially stopped purchasing open space, acquiring just 2.3 acres over the last six years. However, the Open Space tax continued to be levied and collected, and the proceeds from the Open Space Trust Fund continued to be spent. That's because in 2011, the first year after Gov. Christie signed into law a new cap on local tax increases, Union County began using Open Space Trust Fund money to pay for maintenance of non-trust fund property, including paying salaries to parks employees. Not only is this against the spirit of the Open Space tax that was sold to voters, it's also inconsistent with what the voters actually voted on.
The county's own interpretation of the ballot question was that Open Space Trust Fund money could only be used to acquire or maintain land purchased out of the trust fund! By using Open Space taxes to pay for non-trust fund property expenses, Union County has turned the trust fund into more of a slush fund.
IT'S THE TAXES, STUPID...
New Jersey taxpayers have had enough. The residents of this state deserve better. Help us fight the good fight! Here's what we're up against:
- Union County is the 7th highest taxed county in America
- Summit is the highest taxed municipality (per household) in Union County
- With long-term liabilities mushrooming to 360% of total assets, New Jersey was ranked the state with the worst fiscal health in the country for the third consecutive year by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University
- For the fifth consecutive year, New Jersey saw more residents leave than any other state, with 63 percent more departures than arrivals
- According to recent McKinsey study, New Jersey has been among the worst states for economic growth, with GDP increasing an average of just 0.3 percent between 2005 and 2015 – nearly five times lower than national GDP growth over the same period
- New Jersey has the highest property tax burden in the country, with an effective rate (as a percent of income) of 5.41%
- New Jersey is one of just two states that has both an inheritance tax and an estate tax (Maryland is the other)
- New Jersey’s corporate tax, known as the Corporation Business Tax (CBT), is among the highest in the country, with a top rate of 9%
- The average state spends roughly 40 cents in incentives for every dollar of corporate investment it brings in, but from 2010 to 2016, New Jersey paid $1.80 in incentives for every dollar of corporate investment it induced