With state property tax cap in place, N.J. officials struggle with budgets

Municipal government officials in New Jersey are preparing their budgets for the New Year.

New Jersey League of Municipalities executive director Bill Dressel said it will be a challenge for towns to come up with spending plans that comply with the new 2-percent cap on property tax increases.

“There’s a lot of white knuckles out there as they’re squeezing the pin to try to figure out how they’re going to be able to present a balanced budget without increasing taxes and without threatening service levels that are going to impact on the quality of life,” Dressel said.

Sharing services topped the list of strategies mayors used to stay within the tax cap this year. Dressel expects that will be a major focus again in 2012.

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He said an increase in successful property tax appeals has cut into current municipal surpluses and is making the budget process even more difficult

“A lot of these appeals may have been initiated in a prior budget year, but in 2011 we saw successful property tax appeals,” Dressel said. “And that’s where it really had an impact on the bottom line and that is the amount of revenues going into municipal coffers to pay for essential services.”

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