Mayor’s Message: The Garden State

The following comes from Mayor Louis Manzo.

We all know that New Jersey is known as the Garden State, right? Hasn’t that always been the state’s slogan? It may fascinate you to know that wasn’t the case, formally, until August of 2017, when the governor signed a bill designating “Garden State” as the official state slogan.

Camden attorney and Cherry Hill farm owner Abraham Browning, while speaking at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition’s New Jersey Day, originally coined the nickname in 1876. Though New Jersey has the distinction of being the most densely populated state in the nation, we still have over 9,700 active farms and more than 700,000 acres of farmland. And we earn the Garden State designation by being a top ten national producer in several categories including cranberries, bell peppers, spinach, peaches, blueberries, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, apples, sweet corn and snap beans.

I bring this up since I recently found myself defending our home state in a conversation with a group pointing out some of the negatives; which I’ll get to. But there are many reasons that we all choose to live in New Jersey, specifically where we live in the southern part of the state. Where else can you be in Center City Philadelphia or attend an Eagles game in 30 minutes or be sitting on a beach in an hour? How about take in a Broadway show within two hours or visit the nation’s capital in less than three? We often take our proximity for granted. Gloucester County’s slogan really says it: “Close to Everything, Far from it All.”

So, what are the negative aspects of living in New Jersey? My guess is that most of you reading this are having the same thought right now: Taxes!

In addition to being known as the Garden State and the most densely populated state, New Jersey is notorious for having the highest property taxes in the nation. As I’ve mentioned recently, our state legislators are currently weighing the options available to provide the relief we need in New Jersey, as they review the New Jersey Economic and Fiscal Policy Workgroup report. Here’s a link to the 37-page report: http://pathtoprogressnj.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/PDF-EFPP-Report.pdf

I know that this topic can be confusing to many and October is a month that often finds us discussing property taxes. That’s why I’d like to share some of the technical insight I’ve gained on this topic over the years, since this is a critical time for our state concerning this monumental topic and the more informed you are, the better positioned you are to express your opinion.

Therefore, I will write a series of articles in this Mayor’s Message column in the month of October meant to provide you with a basic understanding of the taxation process and how your tax dollars are spent. I welcome your questions throughout and I encourage you to email your state legislators with input as they consider what action they will take on our behalf.