State must restructure

business, property taxes

New Jersey's best chance at economic revival would result from the revision of its tax structure, including its highest-in-the-nation property taxes.

Seven years after World War II, when I graduated from high school, southern New Jersey was loaded with large private-sector industries and businesses, such as RCA, Campbell Soup and the New York Shipyard. Employment was no problem. Since the 1950s, private-sector industries have relocated to states that offer better economic advantages. Currently, with so many empty stores and industrial parks, there is little question we are in the longest economic rut since the Depression.

The recently passed Economic Opportunity Act may result in more of the same for us, because it doesn't reform our highest state taxes in the nation.

As a 19-year, private-sector retiree on a fixed pension that has declined in value about 45 percent, I have the following recommendations: State taxes should be primarily based on income, the ability to pay and not on the value of your home. If property taxes escalate with inflation, then we should also increase with inflation the $250 veterans' tax discount - which has decreased in value but should have been increased to approximately $365 a year - and the $80,000 Senior Freeze income threshold.

Especially as our citizens grow old, state taxes should be primarily based on ability to pay and not on our homes' escalating values.



U.S. should stay out

of Middle East conflicts

President Barack Obama wants Congress to pick up his load in Syria.

My opinion is to not waste American lives, dollars or effort trying to straighten out the current Middle East mess.

Only Israel is worthy of our assistance, and the Israelis seem to have been able to handle their problems themselves. If they cannot, we should help them.

Let the rest fall into chaos until they sort it out for themselves. Saudi Arabia's leaders will bankroll a solution out of their own self- interests.



Beware consequences

of minimum-wage hike

Raising the minimum wage sounds good on the surface. The worker gets a little more money in his or her pocket, but that's where the perceived benefit ends.

Consider the unintended consequences. First, if the minimum wage is raised, state and federal payroll taxes paid by employers will increase, causing another slowdown in hiring. Why employers have to pay taxes on outgoing funds is beyond my understanding.

Second, low-wage earners who need public assistance to supplement their incomes may no longer qualify, as the earning threshold is determined by the federal government regardless of the cost of living in a particular state. Lower paid workers may wind up worse off.

The cost of housing has exploded, leaving the low-wage earner who does not qualify for assistance in an untenable situation. A worker given a raise to $8.25 an hour who has a 40-hour-a-week job would only get $330 before taxes.

The old determinate of affordability was that you should be making per week what your rent is per month. Very few people are making $1,000 per week, which is the amount many apartments are going for today. Low-wage earners still could not afford to rent an apartment without the assistance of Section 8 housing, and that program also has earnings thresholds.

If the minimum wage increases, will anyone really be better off?



Make bike lane safer

for Route 52 cyclists

Regarding the Sept. 3 letter, "Cyclists on Route 52 endangering walkers":

I would like to offer a simple solution to the danger posed by bicycles on the walkway across the Ocean City-Somers Point causeway.

Put up concrete dividers on the edge of the shoulder heading into Ocean City to make cyclists feel safe using it. I believe it was designed for bicycle use. I have also been hit by a bike rider. The sidewalk is too small and too popular for both uses.



Brigantine commission

would be step backward

Changing the form of government in Brigantine can have serious consequences. A handful of people, without any formal study or public hearings, are pushing for a really bad form of government.

So bad that a state study commission recommended it should no longer be available as an option. So bad that no municipality in the past 40 years has chosen to adopt it. So bad that 31 municipalities have abandoned it, and that fewer than 5 percent of the state's municipalities are still using it.

Unlike our current, more representative form of government, a commission would place complete control in only three commissioners. They would run five departments. Two commissioners (who may have no formal training or expertise) would need to run at least two departments. The commissioners would reign supreme and would be vested with executive, legislative and administrative powers with none of the checks and balances we now enjoy. The three commissioners, not the voters, would choose the mayor.

Without a single strong executive directly elected by the people and without a professional manager, there would be no vision as to where the municipality should be going, or how we should get there.

Don't believe those who claim the proposed change is about saving tax dollars. This is a pure and simple power grab that might benefit a few politicians but has been proven not to work for 95 percent of New Jersey residents.