Affordability and Property Tax Reduction Plan
GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP TAX AFFORDABILITY TODAY
Government spending and property taxes in Gloucester Township have increased to levels that are unsustainable to its residents. GT taxes have increased 67% since our current mayor’s first budget in 2010. Further, debt in Gloucester Township is increasing, and the large debt payments have caused tax increases.
Far too many Gloucester Township residents are struggling to make ends meet and to afford to remain in their homes. Gloucester Township government needs to exercise fiscal control and sensible restraint in its spending – just like every GT household and small business must.
Most of the policy ideas below are rather simple and uncomplicated; but do require some effort and competence. However, instead of putting forth the effort, our current GT government continues to callously and relentlessly raise our taxes (in non-election years).
Here are our common sense, achievable ideas to help control spending, lower taxes, and make living in GT more affordable to its residents.
OUR 6-POINT AFFORDABILITY PLAN FOR GT
Scrutinize discretionary spending
Much of our government spending is mandatory or fixed. But much of it is discretionary. GT’s current government does not question and scrutinize discretionary spending nearly enough.
The current GT government spends on services that provide questionable benefits like a ‘media consultant’ and an ‘energy consultant’. GT has built a few unutilized parks; every year awards lucrative contracts to ‘pay-to-play’ firms. These are just a few examples of expenditures that demand close scrutiny.
Induce more competition in the bidding process for GT government contracts and projects
Often, Gloucester Township’s bidding process for government contracts is intentionally made narrow and targeted in order award contracts to politically favored firms. This practice must end. Reform measures will be taken to ensure a wider, more open, more competitive process to advertise bids and award government contracts.
A more robust and competitive contract bidding process will lower the cost to taxpayers.
Narrow the use of Tax Abatements in GT
GT currently offers a property tax abatement to for all new construction. Excessive and indiscriminate use of tax abatements unfairly shifts the tax burden onto the rest of us.
Our team will re-evaluate this practice, and narrow the use of tax abatements so that only the more ‘blighted’ parts of our town will be eligible for GT property tax abatement.
Improve the GT budgeting process
The annual budget is a town’s single most important document. An annual budget is a statement of the town’s priorities and values; and it establishes the tax burden that will be imposed on its residents. GT’s budgeting process needs to be more robust; and more transparent and inclusive.
• End GT’s pattern of knowingly and intentionally over-budgeting for spending and for projects. This increases your taxes unnecessarily.
• Eliminate GT’s practice of ‘banking the cap’, which is a loophole that allows GT to raise taxes more than the 2% legal maximum annual limit.
• Utilize ‘zero-based budgeting’. This is a more robust, more thorough process to build the annual GT budget which requires that budgeted expenditures must provide value to our town.
Achieve ‘return on investment’ goals for large projects
GT’s current administration routinely spends your tax dollars on projects with only vague verbal promises for future savings or benefits. Going forward, large expenditures will require a ‘return on investment’ calculation to be publicly shared. Further, a project ‘owner’ will be designated (typically the applicable department manager) who will be accountable to manage, achieve, and disclose the cost and benefit targets that were promised.
Explore ideas for consolidation
GT has six separate Fire Districts. There is redundancy in these six Fire Districts. For example, across GT, we have 6 fire chiefs, 30 fire commissioners (5 per fire district), 6 fire marshals, 6 separate liability insurance policies, 6 solicitors, 6 auditors, etc.
GT’s fire departments do a good job in working cooperatively to protect GT residents. But through consolidation, there may be many opportunities to reduce taxpayer burden, without compromising safety.