In mid-March, the New Jersey Assembly passed a bill giving local governments a new exemption to the state's 2% property tax spending cap. The goal is to help municipalities generate matching funds to qualify for grants and other special programs.
Sponsors say many towns and counties are not able to apply for grants and other forms of financial assistance if matching funds are required because the strict property tax levy cap does not contain room to allow them to raise matching funds.
The purpose of Assembly Bill 1655 is to allow municipalities an exclusion from the property tax levy cap. Supporters say the benefit to taxpayers from the extra money made available to the municipality outweighs the additional property tax burden from raising the required match.
Public safety unions and the New Jersey State League of Municipalities support the bill.
Opponents say even with the current 2% property tax cap, the average statewide property tax bill in New Jersey has grown to the highest level in the nation.
"Property taxes have not gone down. We've been able to control them with the new reforms that we put in place and the 2% cap but they haven't gone down," said Assemblyman Anthony Bucco. "So I'm a little concerned about a bill that would allow another exemption to the property tax cap."
Legislation similar to A1655 passed the Assembly in 2015 but failed in the Senate.