Where Your Taxes Go
47% of your property taxes go to the West Deptford Township school system. Yet, much of the dismay of rising taxes is directed toward the local and county taxes. Much of the misdirected fervor of increased taxes from the school costs generally is the public view on the importance of a “good” education for our children, and the cost is secondary. Overall, Minority Report agrees that education is the key to one’s success.
But, are we getting the best bang for our buck? Recently, many residents have stated that the quality of education in West Deptford has declined in the last several years. Our school rankings, as posted on the SJ Times in 2015, indicate West Deptford’s ranking in the State’s School Performance Reports.
And, in the recent WD Patch article, the median salary for a WD teacher is ranked #70 in the state, at $73,299, while Haddonfield, a town that WD is compared with on a frequent basis on the quality of education, is ranked #469 for median salary at $56,837. Haddonfield has a higher percentage of graduates at 96% compared to 91% for WD.
How Much of Our Taxes Go to Paying Debt Service?
Recently, a concerned resident submitted the following to the MR.
Attached is a description of how much of our local tax revenue goes to debt. Debt service is approximate one third of our budget but almost half of our taxes go to repaying it off, if one excludes other forms of revenue into the township general fund. Fortunately, we have other revenue to offset all costs within the budget.
Did you know…?
Gloucester County assesses every property within the county. No town in Gloucester County has a municipal tax assessor. See: http://www.gloucestercountynj.gov/depts/b/botcounty/pilprog.asp
For the year 2016, West Deptford Township is ranked #4 in Net Valuation for taxable property. See: http://www.gloucestercountynj.gov/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=8660
West Deptford tax base is $2,248,313,928. Over two billion dollars is the taxable value of the property in West Deptford. Approximately, 40% of our tax base is commercial/industrial. The positive point of that information is that commercial/industrial properties generally impact municipal services at a lower cost, i.e. no negative impact on school services. Therefore, our local rate should be lower than many Gloucester County towns with a lesser amount of commercial/industrial taxable. And, this current year our overall tax rate is 2.918, fifth lowest in the county: Logan Twp. is the lowest with a rate of 2.180. See: http://www.gloucestercountynj.gov/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=8977
Can or should our tax rate be better? Our tax base is twice the size of Logan, yet Logan’s tax rate is substantially lower than ours. Our demand of yearly payments of approximately $10 million to debt service severely impacts West Deptford’s budget and ultimately our tax rate.
And the County, the tax assessor, hasn’t been helping with our tax base for the last few years. We have lost over 17% of our tax base due to the reassessment of properties in West Deptford. One prime example is the commercial property of Johnson-Matthey, who received a 60% reduction in their property value in 2013
as well as many other commercial properties, and residential, saw a reduction in value in recent years.
Look at the explanation from the School Board PowerPoint presentation for this year’s budget and how the reduction in our tax base affected the school budget.
Wake-up West Deptford
Well # 3 has been closed since early 2014. Well #8, a well that taps into the lower aquifer, was shutdown last fall. Both were closed to PFNA contamination.
Meanwhile, Paulsboro had a contaminated well with PFNA, took Solvay to court, and Solvay installed a filtration system for their well #7 in 2015, (http://articles.philly.com/…/57711003_1_filtration-pfna-sol… )
and recently agreed to a settlement to test Paulsboro residents’ blood ( Courier-Post 3/31/16: http://www.courierpostonline.com/…/solvay-paulsbo…/82479794/ )
And what is West Deptford doing? Testing our water? How did Paulsboro take on Solvay and solve their water problem, yet is the current WD administration afraid of taking on Solvay in court and possibly losing the tax revenue if Solvay, third largest tax payer in WD, threatens to pull up stakes?
Where is the outcry from the Delaware RiverKeepers that clamored about well #3 in 2014?
Where is the concern from the residents at township meetings?
Water is precious !
Photo shows several areas of the roof above the swimming pool crumbling as the fascia boards are rotting away as well as the windows are rusting.
When the administrator was advised of the condition, she responded that “we are aware of it.”
BTW, membership is declining, and the operating budget is in the red; i.e. residents are incurring the additional costs instead of the revenue from membership, rentals, etc.
Save some more of your pennies for repairs in near future
2016 WEST DEPTFORD BUDGET to be INTRODUCED
Wednesday night, March 30th, @ 8p the 2016 budget for WD will be introduced at a special township meeting
So far, proposed budgets of local municipal, county, and school budgets for 2016 are pointing to a 14 cent increase per $100 of property value. A property valued at $200,000 will see an approx. $280 tax increase at the proposed tax rate by all three authorities for this year. Local was initially indicating a 5 cent increase**, county a 1.5 cent increase (http://www.nj.com/…/gloucester_county_budget_includes_15-ce… ), and school a 7.5 cent increase (according to prelim budget presentation)
Last year, we saw a 14.5 cent increase. Tax rate for 2014/2015 was 2.773 vs. 2015/2016 current rate at 2.918.
Whatever the final tax rate is established, save your pennies for the new tax bill in August !!
**UPDATE: Introduced budget has a 4.5 cent increase in local tax
Upcoming West Deptford Township meeting on March 3rd, Thursday, @7pm is important for all residents to be aware of and to attend, if you care about the future direction of your town and the financial impact on you and your property if certain decisions are made without your input or knowledge. Be informed, not apathetic to your taxes.
Docuvault, who is relocating into a new building in Mid-Atlantic Park, was approved by the Township Committee for a 5 year tax abatement, via Dack Holdings, LLC.
STABILIZED TAX BASE / TAX ABATEMENTS / PILOTS ??
Tax abatement is better than a PILOT, where the schools are completely left out of any funds. Yet, so is controlling spending, and in return stabilize our taxes without huge increases. Thus, potential commercial prospectives moving to West Deptford may not need tax abatements, which slow the reduction of our town’s debt service.
Of course, enticing more business come to West Deptford via long range tax abatements is one for argument.
The staff at the Minority Report acknowledge the win by Mayor DiCarlo in the recent election for another 3 year term on the township committee with the presumption of being appointed as Mayor again by her fellow Democratic colleagues in 2016.
Though the voter turnout was less than 1/3 of registered voters in town, the usual Democrat vote overwhelms the minority vote of registered Republicans and the few if any unaffiliated voters who are interested in local issues, like their property taxes.
The Minority Report will carefully review the future actions of the Mayor as she ends this term in 2015, and she begins anew in 2016, with the same issues that strangle our town: debt service over $100 million dollars, rising property taxes, aging infrastructure, and she remembers that she represents all of 22,000 residents, regardless of any affiliation, with open, transparent, and bipartisanship government. This is everybody’s town. You don’t need to take it back, just do it right for all.
We will be watching.
WRONG TOP 20 LIST FOR WEST DEPTFORD
Recently, the Patch ( http://patch.com/…/175-most-toxic-towns-new-jersey-west-dep… ) posted the top 175 most toxic towns in NJ. West Deptford is listed at #18.
The leading contributor for toxic wastes in West Deptford is Johnson-Matthey, which is listed as #11 in the state for the toxic onsite releases. (http://www.rtknet.org/db/tri/tri.php… )
Hopefully the huge tax break Johnson-Matthey received in 2013, (over a 61% decrease in tax assessment of the property from $63 million reduced to $24 million, less than in previous assessed 2011 ), will be utilized to safeguard our quality of life in West Deptford and maintain their goal of sustainability of zero waste.
Let’s speed the process up, (cough- cough) Johnson-Matthey.
Let’s hope the leadership on our governing body pays attention to this unfortunate listing.