Planet Princeton

Letters: Citizens Can’t Afford Eleven Percent Tax Hike Proposed by Mercer County

To the Editor:

Words are inadequate to convey my shock and dismay on reading that Mercer County is proposing an eleven percent increase in its property tax assessment on Princeton. At the average assessed residential property value of approximately $800,000, the county is proposing an additional take of over $500 per house! While some might view Princeton as more able to afford this type of increase, many of our residents are getting crushed by their property tax burden and simply cannot afford an increase of this magnitude.

I was a member of the task force that helped our governing bodies merge the two Princetons into one. Most who voted for consolidation did so with the primary objective of reducing property taxes. We have been successful in executing the plan and hope to deliver reduced costs of up to five percent over where the trend line was taking us. Consolidation took a lot of hard work and cost some dedicated municipal employees their jobs due to redundancies. But the municipal tax bill is less than one-quarter of our total tax bill; schools make up one-half and the county takes the rest. In one careless swipe, the county is taking more than twice what Princeton labored to save by consolidating!

I also have to question an equalization formula that results in an eleven percent increase in one community and less than one percent in others. If the formula is indeed correct, I warn those ‘winners’ in this round that equalization will balance out over time and those ‘winners’ can soon expect to experience the same punishing tax increase that is being foisted on Princeton this year.

I urge that our County Executive and Freeholders re-think this budget and come back with something that is more in line with what their community can afford. Work as hard as the Mercer County municipalities do to mange their budgets.

Scott Sillars

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • Scott — Thank you for all the hard work you have put into the transition and to quantifying the financial picture and working for tax savings.

    Thank you also for letting us know about the Mercer County tax hike of 11 %. This is very disappointing news for the taxpayers of Princeton. How is the equalization formula arrived at? Have houses in Princeton really gone up that much more than those in the surrounding communities?

    I certainly understand your shock and dismay at this kind of Mercer County tax hike, particularly after all the hard work you have put into lowering Princeton taxes.

  • Pat Palmer

    Nothing and nobody deserves an 11% hike in this crappy economy. We need to unelect the county budget officials for even thinking of it.

  • DM

    Scott is right! Once we kill the middle class we can all wonder where they’ve gone. Those who put roots in Princeton seem to be challenged every year to stay here. First rising assessments, than this. If consolidation doesn’t lead to the tax savings promised this will pile on more burden. Reducing not shifting the burden is necessary.

  • Bainy Suri

    Well said! Anyone who spends time in Princeton or lives here can easily see that our population is aging and we desperately need to attract more younger people and young families. If Princeton is to have any socioeconomic diversity the taxes need to come down. Much effort was undertaken to consolidate to keep taxes low, not raise them. This current formula proposed also seems to be being applied unequally. 11% is simply unacceptable and needs to be revisited!

    Bainy Suri

  • SFB

    I agree 100%. This feels like a shakedown of Princeton residents. Many of us are having to ‘do more with less’ but Mercer want much more just to do the same.

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