West Deptford Twp., along with our NJDEP, and local petrochemical company, Solvay, are proceeding in a manner to our current PFNA contaminated wells, similar to a popular commercial that talks about monitoring rather than fixing a problem.
Starting last week another monitoring well is being drilled, this time in the Rolling Brook Farms development. Yet, at the same time, wells #3 and #8 remain closed due to PFNA contamination. Well #8 is a large supplier of water to our community, especially in the southern end of town.
It is interesting the yearly WATER QUALITY REPORT recently mailed to all property owners in WD indicates an increase of water (3%) supplied by NJ American Water, of which we pay additional amount for the source.
Let’s hope that our town leaders, elected, appointed, and volunteered, carefully watch over our youth sports programs, vet all coaches and volunteers, protect our youth from predators, and take appropriate action when theft of services, such as what happened in Point Pleasant Beach, occurs. Be vigilant, West Deptford. If it’s wrong, it is wrong, with consequences. Our sports programs should teach our children between what is right and wrong, besides good sportsmanship, team building, etc.
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.
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.
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
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?
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