Home Tri Town Tri Town News Jackson residents appear to have approved open space tax increase

Jackson residents appear to have approved open space tax increase

JACKSON – Residents in Jackson are having their say on a public question regarding a proposed increase in the township’s open space tax rate.

The public question asking residents if they want to increase Jackson’s open space tax rate from 2 cents per $100 of equalized valuation to 3 cents per $100 of equalized valuation was on the Nov. 3 ballot.

According to unofficial results posted by the Ocean County Clerk’s Office, as of Nov. 8, 15,519 residents had voted “yes” and 11,769 residents had voted “no” on the proposed increase in the open space tax rate.

There are additional mail-in ballots to be counted, as well as provisional ballots that were cast at Jackson’s polling locations on Nov. 3. The results of the public question will remain unofficial until they are certified.

An explanatory statement on the ballot said, “In 2001, the voters of Jackson authorized the establishment of the township’s Open Space Trust Fund and the imposition of an open space tax equal to 1.5 cents per $100 of equalized valuation.

“In 2004, the voters of Jackson authorized the increase of the open space tax to 3 cents per $100 of equalized valuation.

“The (open space) tax is currently collected at the rate of 2 cents per $100 of equalized valuation and a ‘yes’ vote on this question would reconfirm the wishes of the township’s voters to provide for an open space tax at the rate of 3 cents per $100 of equalized valuation while permitting these funds to be used for the acquisition, development, maintenance, preservation and payment of debt service for conservation, recreation, farmland and historic properties and structures. The increase would fund additional acquisitions and improvements of open space by the township.”

Commenting on the apparent passage of the ballot question in Jackson, Jeff Tittel, the director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said, “The people have spoken and they want to protect and preserve their open space. … This is critically important because many towns  … have already succumbed to destructive overdevelopment.

“One of the best ways to stop inappropriate development and protect (a town) from sprawl is by increasing open space funds. Protecting open space means less traffic, less water pollution and flooding. It also helps protect the character of the town, the taxpayers, and the quality of life.

“Jackson is one of the places where overdevelopment is happening the fastest. … Increasing open space funds will help (the town) save money. They won’t have to spend as much for services or upgrading and investing in new infrastructure.

“Protecting open space means (the town) won’t be spending that money on building schools or improving roads and traffic lights. Open space funds help towns control their future,” Tittel said.

With an open space tax rate of 2 cents per $100 in place, the owner of a home that is assessed at $250,000 currently pays $50 per year in an open space tax. The owner of a home assessed at $350,000 pays $70 per year. The owner of a home assessed at $450,000 pays $90 per year.

If the open space tax rate is increased to 3 cents per $100, the owner of a home that is assessed at $250,000 would pay $75 per year in an open space tax. The owner of a home assessed at $350,000 would pay $105 per year. The owner of a home assessed at $450,000 would pay $135 per year.

Municipal officials said the additional revenue that would be collected by raising the open space tax rate would provide them with more flexibility to purchase open space throughout Jackson.

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