Comments by Summit Common Council Member Pat Hurley to the Union County Freeholders on March 8

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to address the Freeholder Board.

I am here again tonight to express the concerns and frustrations of many of my constituents with the growing, and unbalanced, county tax burden imposed upon the residents of Summit.

To review some of the facts that we know, and as I said last month if you disagree with any of these numbers, which we take as fact, let us know so that we can better communicate the value we receive for our tax dollars paid to Union County:

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- The people of Summit represent approximately 4% of Union County, yet we pay approximately 10% of its total tax levy.

- Last year Summit's families paid approximately $29,000,000 to Union county - which is $1,000,0000 more than they paid to the city itself for its own operating expenses.

- The most generous estimate I've seen for returned value is $3,000,000 - meaning, annually, we pay almost 10 times what we get in return.

- Additionally, we are taxed at more than double the average rate applied to all other Union County municipalities. 

To add further perspective, since 2006, Summit residents have:

- Paid more than $156,000,000 to the county
- Paid the 4th highest tax levy while ranking 9th in population.
- Paid the highest overall tax levy per person - 16% more than the next municipality.
- Paid 2 and 1/2 times the average amount of taxes per person

And, for us, the county tax burden is, proportionally, and I guess exponentially, just getting worse. This year, our school budget is flat, and our city budget is projected to be up just 0.6%. For the average household in Summit this equals a municipal tax increase of just $23. Yet, at the same time, the average household is looking at a county tax increase of more than $500 - more than 20 times the city increase.

In expressing these concerns, and frustration, we are not being unreasonable, we are not being disrespectful, nor are we trying to question your integrity or intentions. We know the good the county had done and recognize its potential, working together, to positively serve all of its residents. And, I know a lot of this is outside of your control.

But, we are reaching a tipping point and we're asking to work with you to reduce the seemingly ever increasing tax burden on our residents by being aggressive in cutting county expenses, controlling county spending and better working with all Union County communities to more effectively leverage shared services - Just like we have done, and will continue to do, at Summit City Hall.

Contrary to popular belief, not every resident in Summit is part of the 1%. In fact, I would argue most are not, and this ever-increasing tax burden imposed upon us by the county is quickly becoming unsustainable. 

Thank you and I look forward to working with you in the coming months to address these concerns.

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