NEW JERSEY – Republican members of the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee said millions of dollars in budget cuts to Open Space PILOT Aid in Governor Phil Murphy’s FY 2024 state budget proposal will drive property tax increases in more than 100 small rural communities across New Jersey.
“Small rural communities that are home to State lands are given Open Space PILOT aid to offset the impact of those properties being taken off their tax rolls,” said Senate Republican Leader Steven Oroho (R-24). “It may not seem like a lot of money, but it’s important tax relief to towns in the Highlands and Pinelands that have strict State-imposed limits on development that prevent economic growth that could help replace the lost funds. It’s another unnecessary swipe at rural towns that are already struggling to prevent property tax increases.”
Governor Murphy’s current state budget reduced Open Space PILOT Aid from its previous funding level of $9 million to just $6 million. His newly released budget proposal for FY 2024 continues the funding decrease.
“There’s no need for Governor Murphy to cut rural municipal tax relief by millions of dollars when he’s proposing a $10 billion surplus in his next budget,” said Senator Michael Testa (R-1). “When you combine this cut with inflationary cost increases, other municipal aid cuts the governor has proposed, and higher health benefit premiums for local government employees imposed by his administration, you’re sure to see big property tax increases across New Jersey.”
In addition to the proposed cut to Open Space PILOT Aid to rural communities, Senate Republican Budget Office Declan O’Scanlon noted yesterday that the governor’s budget proposal cuts the return of nearly $70 million of Energy Tax Receipts funds to municipalities in all parts of the state.
The cuts in municipal aid come as towns are already struggling with the fiscal impact of a 22.8% increase in the cost of health benefit premiums for local government employees that was imposed by the Murphy administration last fall.
“It’s unconscionable that the Murphy administration is slashing aid to municipalities left and right and spiking their health care costs while the governor is sitting on an obscene $10 billion surplus built with taxpayer funds,” said Senator Doug Steinhardt (R-23). “I have no doubt that Governor Murphy’s bad budget plan will translate into significantly higher property tax bills for millions of New Jerseyans.”