By MARK ROSMAN
Residents of an adult community in Howell have played a role in a piece of legislation that has been introduced in Trenton.
Assemblyman Sean Kean (R-Monmouth-Ocean) introduced legislation on Sept. 13 that proposes an amendment to the State Constitution to freeze property taxes on the primary residences of all homeowners who are 65 years old or older, according to a press release.
Because the legislation proposes an amendment to the State Constitution, it would need approval from New Jersey voters in a ballot referendum. Action would need to be taken in the state Senate and Assembly in order to place the question before the electorate, according to Kate Gamberg, the chief of staff in Kean’s office.
The earliest date the question could be placed before voters is the general election in November 2017. If the proposal was approved by voters, the tax freeze could be implemented in 2018, she said.
The purpose of the bill is to limit property tax increases for all senior citizens in order to stabilize a large expense, Kean said.
“My intention with this legislation is to make property taxes manageable for senior citizens so they can afford to live in their homes as they get older,” Kean said. “Property taxes become increasingly unmanageable when they sharply increase, especially for individuals living on fixed incomes.”
According to the press release, Kean crafted the legislation after meeting with a group of senior constituents who are very concerned about property tax increases affecting their adult community.
Kean said he has been working with the Equestra Property Tax Committee from the Equestra adult community in Howell on ways to address property taxes in New Jersey.
Adam Seyhan, co-chair of the Equestra Property Tax Committee, said, “New Jersey residents pay the highest property taxes in the nation. It is no wonder why New Jersey is also the highest in the nation for out-going domestic migration.
“This bill will not only protect the senior citizens of today, it will also help the seniors of tomorrow in planning their retirement and encourage everyone to stay in the state where their families live. The bill will help New Jersey retain the large amount of money being lost when seniors move out of state,” Seyhan said.
Under the amendment, ACR-202, the property tax freeze would take effect once the homeowner turns 65 or once the home is acquired by a person 65 years of age. A homeowner would have to apply for the property tax freeze every year, according to the press release.
The legislation is different than the current Senior Freeze property tax reimbursement program in that there is no income limit and current Senior Freeze recipients who receive reimbursements for property tax increases would no longer have to pay future increases up front, according to the press release.
“This legislation, if approved by the voters, will stabilize property taxes for senior citizens and provide them with some security in knowing their property taxes will not rise above a certain level. This knowledge will allow seniors to accurately plan for their financial future and their ability to stay in New Jersey during their golden years,” Kean said.
Gamberg said a fiscal analysis of the proposal has not been conducted. She said the impact that freezing taxes on one segment of a community’s property owners would have on remaining property owners would be determined by the financial needs of a municipality’s taxing entities (i.e., municipal government, school district) on an annual basis.