I will bet you that Monroe Township Mayor Richard Pucci is very happy that he is recovering from back surgery and out of the public eye for a while….
After three years of paying out on tax appeals primarily filed by residents of active adult communities in Monroe Township, a tax levy increase of $500,000 OVER the 2% property tax cap was recently handed off to residents. Evidently, any appeals that were filed were paid out, no questions asked.
In Monroe, the municipal portion of the 2012 property tax bill saw a $393 increase for a home assessed at the township average of $165,900.
As a mother of three, I have a pretty well-trained nose, and I know when something doesn’t smell quite right…
The largest demographic of Monroe Township is the senior population and coincidentally enough, they are primarily Democratic voters. Could that have anything to do with the appeals that were paid out? These appeals cost the township millions, but Pucci won another term as mayor because this went unnoticed until very recently. Do you think that the mayor and his town government would have paid on those appeals so willingly if the senior population was primarily Republican?
I think not…..
Monroe Township Business Administrator Wayne Hamilton ORIGINALLY claimed that the reason for the tax hike stems from payouts for 3000 tax appeals, representing about 1/3 of the properties in the township. They added up to $11.4 million in refunds and credits to taxpayers. What was Hamilton’s sympathetic response to taxpayers who will have difficulty paying the additional taxes? “It’s a difficult explanation to say ‘[because] you didn’t have the savvy or foresight to file a tax appeal whereas your neighbors did, you’re paying in essence for the refunds and credits that your neighbors got.’”
So, then, what is the explanation? The onus is on the taxpayers??? There is no accountability for the bad business decisions made by the townsip administration – tax assessors, collectors, the elected officials who are supposed to be looking out for our best interests??
Other supposed contributing factors to the hikes were a decreased assessed valuation for the township (a decline of $140 million in the past two years) and cuts to state aid and schools. So the township decided to dole out higher tax bills to residents in order to recoup some cash.
However, within the past week of being called out on this gaffe, Hamilton backpedaled and said that the township’s Chief Financial Officer made a MISTAKE with the levy cap calculation that resulted in the higher tax bills. Is THAT your story now, guys?
But have no fear, fellow residents of Monroe Township! The governor has come to our rescue….and FAST. Christie and his team identified this budgetary discrepancy and began efforts to immediately remediate this situation. We can expect to see some relief circa November 1. How is THAT for public service??? This is the kind of leadership that our state requires. Christie’s administration clearly understands that the needs of the people must be held in the highest regard and that they are accountable for protecting our quality of life.