can save New Jersey
As a transplanted shoobie, I am saddened when I read stories about cities and towns attempting to keep their budgets under control with fewer dollars.
Consolidation, furloughs, even dismissals are considered or have happened. It's not just local. The same situation exists in counties and the state.
The problem is tax money, and it will persist unless there is growth in the state's economy.
The probability of this happening is dismal. Working people who expect to earn a middle-class wage have to consider the cost of living in an area, particularly housing costs. That's a problem if you are moving to New Jersey. And if you are a business wanting to establish an operation, you need employees. Business tax incentives don't work if competent employees are not available.
We have a structural problem with our tax system. Our elected officials know this, but refuse to provide a permanent solution, instead rely on illusions to placate the electorate. Yes, property taxes are the elephant in the room.
I believe a good start at property tax reform would be the removal of all elected officials from the state pension and medical benefit programs.
a long-overdue system
Regarding the July 25 story, "Official backs consolidating tax work":
Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson's suggestion that tax assessing duties be consolidated in the county is an idea that has long been discussed. Over a dozen years ago, as a member of the county Board of Chosen Freeholders, I proffered a similar idea.
Under a single county entity, tax values could be more easily updated. With the proper computer program, this could happen on an almost-daily basis.
In actuality, the equalized rates themselves mean nothing. Municipalities change the tax rates yearly to accommodate their financial needs, while assessed values often have remained unchanged for many years. Thus the current need for the "equalized rate." When towns need more money, they just raise tax rates.
With computer technology today, it is very easy to establish a true value for almost anything: cars, services, food and property.
It may be time to move forward with one entity at the helm assessing the county real estate value, rather than 23 municipalities working with different programs and ideas on how to build the barn, not to mention 23 offices doing what one could do.
I urge those in authority to move forward with this plan.
JAMES A. CARNEY
Egg Harbor Township
adds insult to injury
I recently received my yearly automobile registration. It is $39.50 and another couple of bucks if you register by phone.
There was a time it was printed on cardboard with a protective coating and a perforated perimeter so you could easily remove it from its sheet and place it safely in your glove compartment. Now it comes simply printed in black and red ink on heavy paper with neither the coating or punch-out option. The look is shamelessly cheap. I know this debacle must have cost-cutting as its basis. I consider it an indignity.
RALPH GARY BRAUNER
Republicans must pick
Is this the best the Republican Party can offer for the United States Senate, Steve Lonegan and Alieta Eck?
I commend both of them for their willingness to fight for tax cuts and against Obamacare, but the reality is they are unelectable. One comes across as too angry and the other is a complete unknown. Candidates like these are why the New Jersey Republican Party has not elected a senator in 40 years.
Our party needs to put up candidates for statewide office who have a legitimate chance of winning and changing the political culture in Washington. It is a shame that better known Republicans like state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. and U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo did not step up. In the future, if candidates such as these do not run, perhaps someone like Chris Brown will.
Brown answered the call to serve his country in the time of war, not once, but twice. And since being elected to the Assembly, he has proven to be a pragmatic, sensible leader who can win.
The Republican Party can do a better job, and it can start with local leaders such as Brown.
JOHN M. RUSH
Egg Harbor Township