TRENTON – New Jersey continues to make its own history – now setting a landmark for property taxes. Yep, the average tax bill is now more than $9,000 for the very first time, rising $159 to $9,112 in 2020, NJ.com reports. Frustrated residents deem this ridiculous, of course, but tax experts offer up a silver lining: the one-year increase is less than 2%, which is a darn miracle in our high-taxed state living in a pandemic. The most expensive places? Essex and Union counties. But bargains abound, such as if you want to live in Cumberland County, for some reason, where you can hide from the tax man for under $5,000 a year. It’s a commuter’s dream – just 150 miles south of Manhattan.

STATEWIDE – If you ask ProPublica a reason why New Jersey’s taxes are so high, the news site would be the latest media outlet to point to generous police union contracts, among the highest nationally. Working with the Asbury Park Press, the site reported that unused sick time continues to be a massive payout on the backs of taxpayers. They point to the North Bergen sergeant who was handed $75,300 in unused sick time, as well as a chief in Jersey City who collected more than a half a million bucks. Other cops were reported getting six months pay with no work as a “retirement benefit,” while others get “perfect attendance” bonuses. All in all, these contracted perks cost hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Do we love our cops? We sure do. But it seems we will never stop paying them for not being sick.

SCOTCH PLAINS-FANWOOD – The local school district is offering free breakfast and lunch for any and all kids, with funds from the feds. TAPInto SP-F explains it is an extension of the 2020 Food Service Program, giving an extra boost for families falling on hard times. It is doubtful that many SP-F families will participate – only 35 meals were done each day prior to this news coverage. But it is more questionable as to why the federal government is now throwing out such a wide net of emergency aid. Recognizing (or assuming) our government is not just running on blank checks, shouldn’t resources be strategically streamlined to serve only those who really need it? Isn’t the goal of addressing hunger to, well, address hunger?

Sign Up for Camden Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

BRIEFING BREATHER

American Airlines saved $40,000 in 1987 by eliminating one olive from each salad served in first-class. 

OFF THE RAILS – It’s your newer, friendlier NJ Transit, giving occasional commuters a break from the commitment of those expensive monthly passes. So now – drum, roll, please – NJ Transit is launching “FlexPass,” which gives commuters a 20-trip ticket at 20% off the one-way fare on rail, light rail and buses, NJ.com reports. This is a dream come true for the employee who works a couple days at home and a couple of days in NYC, grousing all the time about that damn monthly pass. This is also a smart move for NJ Transit, which can rake in some new revenue during this pandemic, even with the big drop in monthly passes. Meanwhile, maybe the trains can run on time, too.

ROCKAWAY – A councilman is suing his hometown yet again, this time because he suspects it is being overcharged for legal services. This is Councilman Tucker Kelley’s fourth lawsuit pending against Town Hall, the Daily Record says. Kelley already filed an OPRA request for the township attorney’s invoices, but he didn’t get any paperwork from the municipal clerk. The attorney says Kelley’s claims are untrue; it’s just part of “a vendetta” against his law firm. Kelley has been feuding since 2018 with fellow council members, who censured him for his behavior last fall. Kelley may not realize his quest to control legal fees seems to be doing the exact opposite.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

CONCORD, NH – Curious cats keep crashing Zoom meetings, a side effect with so many people working remotely. Now, a New Hampshire lawmaker’s attention-seeking cat is triggering trouble, prompting demands for a “pet ban.” State Rep. Anita Burroughs’ fluffy feline “Yoshi” kept popping up on-screen last week during a virtual committee hearing. The Concord Monitor says no one balked when Yoshi blocked her owner's face and pawed for pets. But, later the panel’s chairman told her: “No animals in the room… do we really want cats parading in front of (a) legislator’s computer?” Burroughs says a ban seems kinda catty noting that other lawmakers’ pets and kids often intrude on virtual meetings: “That’s part of the life we’re living right now. Pets are part of it too.”

BAR GRAMMAR

A misplaced modifier walks into a bar owned by a man with a glass eye named Ralph.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 1992 that the fastest yodeler – Thomas School – showed his stuff: registering 22 tones in one second.

WORD OF THE DAY

Febrile – [FEB-ryle] – adjective

Definition: feverish

Example: My St. Patrick’s Day party always exhales the febrile bustle of a saloon in the wee hours of the morning.

WIT OF THE DAY

 

“Some foreigners with full bellies and nothing better to do engage in finger-pointing at us. First, China does not export revolution; second, it does not export famine and poverty; and third, it does not mess around with you. So what else is there to say?”

-Xi Jinping

BIDEN BLURB

“This is a guy (Chinese leader Xi Jinping) who doesn’t have a democratic — with a small d — bone is his body. This is a guy who is a thug.”

-Joe Biden

WEATHER IN A WORD

Again?