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.