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Exploring Ways to Cut Kearny Taxes


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Too often it’s said that no one has solutions, so let’s open up a dialogue that may lead to ideas that may lead to possible solutions. Let's talk. The outcome could be of interest to a new administration to consider, because we pretty much know that the current Mayor and Council would take years to implement anything they are not pressured to act upon.

Solving financial problems in any municipality, Kearny included, is going to be painful, and there is a definite need to rethink how government actually works. Sacrifices are going to have to be made and sacrifice is expected. We can't put off this type of discussion any longer.

In Kearny, one of the first things that should to be addressed is a revaluation. Property owners have to be prepared for this; it is my understanding that Kearny is long overdue for a property revaluation, so it’s a matter of time before one is mandated. In the end, this will level the playing field and put property values “in line” with market values. I am certain Mayor Santos wants to avoid any type of revaluation because it is politically explosive, and it always certainly appears that this man only acts in politically appropriate ways, he is more concerned about positive political consequences for himself rather than what’s actually good for the community. Sorry for the occasional editorializing, but my frustration with this administration pushes me to offer a comment or two.

Realistically, any reduction in taxes equates to a cut or an elimination of services. So, if we want to reduce the tax burden, we as residents are going to have to get use to doing without. We can’t have both, lower taxes and high levels of services. This means that choices have to be made, what services have to be cut or eliminated to lessen the tax burden have to be identified. The same mindset has to be adopted by the School District.

The other side of the coin is sharing services with other neighboring municipalities such as Harrison, East Newark and possibly North Arlington as well as entities such as the Kearny Board of Ed and/or the Kearny MUA. In addition to shared services there can be moves between municipalities and public entities towards co-op purchasing and bulk buying. This avenue requires innovation, strong leadership, political will, and creative approaches to governance, which may be too much to expect from or it may be well beyond the capabilities of the present Kearny administration.

At any rate, to start some form of dialogue, I’ll propose some examples of things that could be done to lower taxes – don’t kill me for the ideas. We can look into eliminating the town paying for garbage collection and have each property owner, business or tenant pay for the pick-up. We can explore levying an added tax assessment on property owners within a given district over a specified period of time to cover the expenses related to infrastructure improvements. We can charge fees for home and business inspections by any town department that realistically cover the time and expense of the employee conducting the inspection. We can have property owners be responsible for the maintenance of trees in front of their houses; they are liable for sidewalks so extend the onus of responsibility to trees. We can see that water and sewer usage expenses are consistent with existing market prices and charge property owners accordingly without government subsidizing any of these costs.

With the taxpayer taking “hits” town employees as well as the town should also share in the solution. Town workers take a great deal of criticism, most of which is unwarranted, yet employees should contribute towards the cost of health insurance benefits and be expected to work 8-hours days despite their years of service. An expansion of job duties and the sharing of tasks resulting in increases in productivity should be expected of employees. Residents have to realize that cutting employees from the payroll, and not replacing them, results in lower service levels and a lower quality of service, so expect less from the town.

The town should also strive to cut costs, especially in the area of professional services. I understand that attorney costs are running rampant and costs associated with accountants were going over the edge. In fact, I was told that despite hiring a CFO for a dollar last year the municipality was paying over $14,000 a month (a conservative estimate) to a firm that was performing its finance functions? Again, the Board of Education, which accounts for over 50% of the tax rate, should also be expected to take an initiative to cut costs and streamline operations.

I’m throwing out thoughts and ideas to start a dialogue, to start a discussion. It’s time the residents and taxpayers of this town share their views and opinions about how to save money and lower the tax rate. Let’s show the administration that the people of this town know how to make government better and more efficient. And if we’re lucky, someone may be listening, someone just may be sensitive to the plight of Kearny’s hard-working population.

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Guest Lease the Water

Kearny's most underutilized asset is the town's water obligation. Kearny pays for more then 1/2 the water the town consumes. Isn't it about time the town realized the leasing of this "surplus" water is sound fiscal managment, and forget the hysterics of the past. It's time the town got real

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