Home News Transcript News Transcript Opinion

When is enough, enough?

Typing Letter to the Editor for the Opinion page.

By Rose Ann Scotti

The people of New Jersey are being buried. Local school taxes, municipal taxes, county taxes, county library taxes, local open space taxes, county open space taxes and, in some towns, local fire district taxes, regional high school taxes and water and sewer taxes.

And if you think elected officials are genuinely worried about piling on the taxes, I believe you are sadly mistaken. Every time I pick up a newspaper and read about one kind of proposed tax increase or another, I wonder if they live with us in the real world.

Or do they live in some alternate universe where no one has all-consuming personal problems putting limits on their ability to attend meetings or educate themselves on spending proposals constantly being spewed from the political vortex?

For example, voters in Monmouth County have always supported the preservation of land through the county’s open space tax. And, most municipalities have an open space tax that we pay in addition to the municipal services tax. But when is enough, enough?

This year, the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders will have a binding question on the ballot to increase the open space tax from 1.5 cents to 2.75 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. We currently support the program by $17.4 million every year with $14.4 million of that amount going to pay off debt service and land maintenance.

The new tax increase will generate an additional $14.5 million yearly, bringing our contribution to $31.9 million each year. Most of the additional funds could be leveraged into a phenomenal debt service obligation of nearly $29 million each year for the life of the bonds.

In addition, some towns such as Colts Neck plan to proceed with a referendum this November asking voters to double the open space tax from 1.2 cents to 2.5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

Because the tax is a constant, this would have the effect of doubling the dollar amount paid per household. I guess we have to say no more loudly, since a similar proposal was recently defeated.

Ten years’ service on my local board of education gave me insight into the issue of ever-increasing administrative costs which, I felt, took dollars away from our education programs.

That is why I applauded our Governor’s top-down approach to give school boards a fighting chance against strong teachers’ and supervisors’ unions by successfully implementing superintendent salary caps and reigning in public employee benefit costs.

Therefore, I was angry and confused when I read an article reporting that a school district in Monmouth County was making most of “the new superintendent salary caps.”

Apparently, they did not feel $125,000 a year was enough to run a district with one school and 213 students. They brokered a new deal through June 30, 2022 with a new starting salary of $135,000 and an annual $5,000 increase for the first four years until the new salary cap of $152,794 is reached in the 2021-22 school year with a $2,794 raise.

When was the superintendent salary cap changed? I was disappointed to learn that most of the good work done by the Governor has been undone by some hypocrite legislators who, in 2016, began to dismantle his policies with legislation that enabled school boards to get around the caps. What a shame.

Local rule is somewhat of a quagmire with politicians at all levels unwilling to make decisions that could cost them re-election. Consolidation of vital services and the voluntary merging of municipalities are ideas that have been around the State House so long they are beginning to smell like days old fish.

Locals resist and politicians do not have the guts to just do it from the top down. We need to get smart and start saying no to tax increases. Enough is enough!

Rose Ann Scotti is a former mayor of Colts Neck and a former president of the Colts Neck K-8 School District Board of Education.

Exit mobile version