New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is warning residents of towns that were damaged in Hurricane Sandy that they will probably see their property taxes rise in the wake of the storm. The tax hikes will be used to offset the costs of rebuilding the towns. New Jersey already has the highest property tax rates in the whole Unites States.
Christie said that his signature 2 percent tax cap law is built with an exemption for emergencies like Hurricane Sandy. The Federal Government is expected to foot the bill for the clean up costs but residents will have to foot the bill to rebuild their towns.
Speaking at the State House, Christie said:
“It’s got to be paid for. No one’s ever happy with higher taxes. But the fact is, what annoys people more than anything else is waste. As long as they know that their money’s being spent in a way that’s helping bring the town back to life, I think people will understand.”
The governor said legislation might be needed to allow storm-ravaged towns to reassess property owners whose homes were destroyed by the storm. One option, Christie said, is to assess those owners taxes on the property, not the building that once stood on it.
Christie extended a deadline for property tax payments to Friday and said towns destroyed by the storm could extend that date even further.
Christie had been trying to lower state income taxes for months but had agreed with the State Legislature to trim property taxes instead.
The Legislature also pegged tax cuts n the State meeting revenue goals, which up until now they haven’t done. With the revenue from sales tax and the loss of casino revenue from the storm they will likely not hit those targets before the end of the year.
While Republicans and Democrats will probably not agree on tax cut policy at this time they have pledged to work together on storm related clean up.
“I got a commitment from all four of them that Hurricane Sandy recovery issues would be outside the political realm.”