Oroho trying to prevent property tax explosion
To media insiders like Amy Paterson, New Jersey's transportation funding crisis is way too complicated to even try to have an educated debate about it. It's a lot more complicated than those kitten videos newspaper internet directors use to attract viewership (as opposed to readership). In fact, she so much doesn't want to have a debate, that she has actively censored attempts to make the TTF issue more understandable.
To insiders like Amy, just as the kitten will miraculously get its head unstuck, the roads and bridges will miraculously get maintained and repaired regardless of whether or not there is money to pay for those repairs.
Of course, in the real world, we know that when the money runs out, and the workers don't get paid, the repairs will stop. Here's how it works.
The Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) collects money from the gas tax and then uses that money to maintain and repair state roads and bridges. The TTF also sends money to local governments (counties and municipalities) so that they can afford to maintain and repair the roads and bridges that they own.
The TTF is nearly bankrupt. There will be no money for the maintenance and repair of the roads and bridges owned by the state AND there will be no money to send to local governments to maintain and repair their roads and bridges.
When that happens, local governments will have a decision to make: Either they raise property taxes on every homeowner and business to pay for the maintenance and repair of roads and bridges; or they allow those roads and bridges to fall into disrepair, and become unsafe.
If local governments take the second option and allow roads and bridges to become unsafe, they will be left with just two choices: Close those roads and bridges as they become unsafe, or accept that there will be lawsuits for negligence when people are injured or killed on those unsafe roads and bridges. Of course, the legal bills and settlements for such lawsuits will also result in the need to raise property taxes -- so the taxpayer will lose either way.
Approximately one-third of gas tax revenues in New Jersey come from out-of-state travelers. All property taxes come from the people of New Jersey. So which do you think is the best way to pay for improvements to roads and bridges, an increase in the gas tax or an increase in property taxes?
Let Watchdog know and we'll print your thoughts and suggestions. We are not afraid of having an open debate.
Now we have had a suggestion on how counties and municipal governments could save some money and then direct that money to road and bridge maintenance and repairs.
Currently, every property taxpayer in New Jersey SUBSIDIZES newspapers. Here's how it is done: State law requires that advertisements be placed in newspapers for many official actions -- like notices of sheriff sales and local government budgets. Millions of property tax dollars are spent each year by local governments for these advertisements and that money goes directly into the pockets of the corporate entities that own and control the newspapers.
But modern technology has made this expense antiquated and unnecessary. Today, notice could be given on government-owned websites for a tiny fraction of the cost property taxpayers are paying now to newspapers.
And who benefits from this subsidy? Mostly they are out-of-state corporations who have no stake in our communities. Often they push the agenda of some anonymous corporate tycoon , while all we see is their corporate shills -- people like Amy Paterson.
No doubt there are other savings to be made, but can they be made in time? The money in the TTF has already started running out.
Now here is something that "censor-in-chief" Amy Paterson doesn't want you to know. Last month the town of Montville, in Morris County, went to the TTF for funding to repair a road. It was turned down. Many of the subsidized big corporate newspapers missed it , but a small Morris County newspaper did report on it and noted the shock of township leaders:
Due to the New Jersey Transportation Fund’s unfunded state, Canning said he saw something he had never seen in 25 years of working in government: a grant denial.
“There were 641 applications to the NJ Department of Transportation requesting more than $253 million of the $78.75 million available in municipal aide grant funds,” said Canning, “and they did not approve our Brittany Road project, therefore, all $650,000 will have to be self-funded.”
What that "will have to be self-funded" means is that the property taxpayers of Montville will be stuck paying for those repairs. Now magnify that by all the roads and bridges that need repair in Sussex County, divide by the number of property taxpayers, and that will give you some idea of what is coming our way if leaders like Senator Steve Oroho don't get the support they need to fix the bankrupt TTF.