Governor Christie and the Fairness Formula – What It Could Mean for Springfield

Governor Christie answering a question
Governor Christie during his presentation

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Governor Christie held a town hall meeting focused on his proposed change to school funding called the Fairness Formula Tuesday.  While the Governor is not optimistic about the chances of his program being initiated, he felt it is very important to have this discussion out in the public square given what he considers the high property tax burden, which is about five percent of state GDP (figure 2).

The details of the meeting are described in an article by Bobbi Peer of TAPinto New Providence, found in sections - Union County News and Other New Jersey News.  The focus of this article is to highlight the estimated savings for Springfield Township and how those savings compare to other municipalities in Union County. 

For Springfield Township, the average savings are expected to be $1,944, which would equal 18.2% of the average property tax bill paid in 2015 of $10,700.  In Union County, the proposal would result in meaningful savings for 16 of the 21 municipalities.

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Figure 1:  The Fairness Formula Expected Savings to Property Taxes

Springfield’s average tax bill ranks eighth highest in Union County, while the savings percentage ranks ninth of the 16 municipalities expected to realize a savings.  In New Jersey, Springfield’s property tax bill is 104th highest of the 566 municipalities.  In 2015, the average property tax bill in New Jersey was $8,329 and the median one was $7,672.

In school year 2013-2014, the total spent per pupil in Springfield was $18,504 and 87% of that was funded by local property taxes according to the State of New Jersey Department of Education.  The median total spend in New Jersey was $18,503.  That level of local funding is second highest in the county.  The contribution of other sources for Springfield – state, federal, tuition, use of fund balance and other – were more modest.

As shown in figure 2, property taxes in New Jersey have stayed around five percent of the state’s economy (GDP) during Governor Christie’s time in office.  In the eight years before he took office, property taxes rose from close to four percent of state GDP to five percent. 

Figure 2:  The Fairness Formula Expected Savings to Property Taxes

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