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Leave it to the Tax and Spend Freeholders

May 6, 2010
 

  

Leone-Zwillinger, Zallie, and DeCristofaro

 

Two weeks ago Mayor Scott Alexander Announced (.4%) decrease in 2010 Property Taxes in Haddon Heights.  This municipal budget was premised upon the Camden County Freeholders increasing your county taxes by no more than 6%.  Through tight fiscal controls and a watch dog eye on spending Haddon Heights tax payers will see a decrease in their property tax bills despite an up to 6% county tax increase.  If the county increases taxes by more than 6% then Haddon Height residents will see an increase. 

“It is truly reprehensible that hard-working elected officials like Scott Alexander and Rose Fitzgerald have to plan Haddon Heights budget based on an unacceptable county tax increase of 6%,”  

said Freeholder Candidate George Zallie.   

Our Freeholders should use the same cost controlling techniques as Haddon Heights and when I am a freeholder they will.”   

George’s Runningmate Scot DeCristofaro declared,   

“The greatest tragedy would be the people of Haddon Heights paying a property tax increase because the Freeholder board led by Ed McDonnell could not keep their tax increase under 6%.” 

  

Mayor Scott Alexander

 

Mayor Scott Alexander introduced a 2010 Municipal budget on April 20th announcing a projected decrease in property taxes for the second year in a row and the first back to back property tax reduction in the Borough in 68 years. The reduction is projected to be (.4%) or a $30 savings for a home assessed at $295,000. Because of the Governing Body’s continued focus on fiscal responsibility they were able to absorb a 20% reduction in aid from the State, while not laying off or furloughing employees nor cut services. 

The Mayor said the reason for being able to provide a blended tax rate reduction, a 2.52% increase in the Municipal tax rate and a reduction in the use of cash surplus, was because he “has run the Borough like a business” with residents and property owners as customers, services as products and taxes as prices. The key for success has been giving the “customers” what they want. A survey was conducted in late 2008 asked the residents their satisfaction levels on key services in the Borough, including the School District and County.  

The Governing Body has stayed true to the course to focus on services that received low satisfaction ratings. The Mayor has helped keep the focus on increasing the quality of life in the Borough while maintaining good value services. 

Governor Christie’s approach to shared sacrifice and asking Municipalities and Schools to work together to find a middle ground does work. The residents of Haddon Heights also approved a tax levy request from the School District 2.48% greater than the prior budget. This is the second year in a row that the School District tax levy request was approved by its residents, only the second time in the last seven years.  

The Mayor said that though unpopular to some, he issued challenges to both the School District and County to keep an eye on the level of taxes they are requesting of Borough residents. And it has worked. The School District sharpened their pencils over the last two years and it has made a difference. “This is why budgets are being approved,” he said. 

The Mayor also pointed out that from 2005 to 2008 the blended property tax rate had increased on average 4.95% per year over 5 years before he came to office. Had that course not been corrected with business like mentality and back to back property tax reductions in 2009 and 2010, then an owner of a $295,000 assessed home would have paid $1,675 in additional property taxes over the last two years. This equals a total tax savings of $4.6 million for the entire Borough. 

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