Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Monmouth County Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey would deliver more than $330 million in property tax relief statewide.
The bill (A-302) would reimburse local governments for the approximately $331 million in “Energy Tax Receipts” that the state has consistently diverted back to the general treasury to balance its own books. The funds, which are collected by the state, are meant to reimburse municipalities for the use by utility companies of public rights-of-way and other utility infrastructure on municipal lands.
“Quite simply, this is money that belongs to property taxpayers, not the state, and it’s time our communities and overburdened families got their money back,” said Downey (D-Monmouth), “Restoring this invaluable aid will not solve our systemic property tax crisis, but it is an easy step we must take to relieve some of the enormous burden on middle-class families.”
Under the bill, funds reimbursed to local governments would have a required dedication to offsetting current tax levies, and cannot be counted as new revenues. Houghtaling and Downey noted that New Jersey’s average property tax bill increased 2.4 percent from 2014 to 2015, and that no community in the state has seen an increase in state aid since 2010.
“This is a much-needed tax break that would be passed directly onto taxpayers, which is how it should be,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “As a former mayor, nothing was more infuriating to me than knowing local property taxpayers would be left in the lurch because the governor decided he needed this money more than our residents. This isn’t about politics, it’s about standing up for taxpayers and making sure the state lives up to its promises and its own laws.”