The Summit Taxpayers Association (STA) is organized exclusively to represent the Summit taxpayer and has been doing so since 1943. Its purpose is to advocate for fiscally responsible government.

After completing nearly three years of my one year commitment to head the STA, heck, I've even been paying the $50 annual non-profit N.J. filing fee out of pocket so I'm going to indulge myself editorial license to opine on a few fiscal matters I find of interest.  I hope you do too.

First, I intend to continue as President of the STA until such time as one of your qualified reader’s wishes to step forward to tag me out.  Until then I'll continue to watch over the Summit City & School and Union County tax matters and weigh in as best I can. Moreover, I will continue public speaking engagements, one on one discussion with fiscal decision makers and Letters to the Editor on major tax topics.  Professional and personal commitments occupy the bulk of my time, so I will opt for the above vs. monthly meetings to communicate & keep the agenda moving forward. Happily, the emergence of community groups like R.I.S.E promote the school debate. Private citizens also step forward to put tax matters in the spotlight.

Depending on age, income/net worth… all is well in perhaps one of the most beautiful small towns in America; however, your happiness is fleeting. Many, if not most who read this article will be forced to leave Summit as children graduate from our excellent but costly schools or when income changes.  I paraphrase Bob Marley "The City say your tax is late... They may have to litigate... DONT WORRY... BE HAPPY.”  For many folks this happy cycle ends with retirement (bankers less predictable) when property tax bills averaging $17,000+ make no sense when compared to other warmer and/or tax friendly climates in the country.

My hypothesis: government works less and less effectively in direct and inverse correlation to the proximity of your vote.

Locally, our Mayor and City Council appear to take fiscal matters seriously; however, I continually remind my children... This ain't the way normal America lives. Yes, we are beautiful but we are not cheap and I worry a lot about that because living normally is a more durable and enduring lifestyle.

One step away, Union County Freeholders have accelerated your date with the movers, voting Union County "top 10" tax status among 3,000 counties in the USA. County government is so corrosive that even these one party rulers must know it. Last year, Summit paid over 10% of their $billion dollar$ (half spending half debt) spending binge. They have seen one party rule for 50 years, destroy Detroit but still won't change. Why should they when they vote with your wallet. Two years ago Freeholders convinced themselves a 1-2% salary deferral was sufficient to fund their unanimous vote to provide life time health care for 650+ additional County employees. They convinced me they are hopelessly lost.  More galling is our local government decided we couldn't afford this benefit for our own civil servants.  Really bored?  Try attending a Freeholder meeting in Elizabeth & wait hours to speak only to be ignored and insulted.  Merck is leaving and Freeholders, overlooking how we receive less than 15 cents back for every tax dollar paid, promote themselves as ready to help?  Note to Freeholders; help by not confiscating our taxes (up 10% last year) in the first place!  Perhaps Merck and other mobile taxpayers might stick around longer.  Thank goodness for people like Tina Renna of Union County Watchdogs and bloggers like John Bury who constantly hold the Freeholders feet to the fire.

Two steps away is Trenton.  Wow!  Wonder why many wealthy and mobile N.J. taxpayers opt to buy in Florida or other low tax states funded by taxes saved making the move?

Three steps away is Washington, D.C. where sage advice like the Buffet Rule argue for ever higher taxes to fund government spending while Mr. Buffet will avoid those same taxes, directing his wealth to more effective private sector spending managed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Sounds like the Healthcare Human Services (HHS) mandate which applies to everyone except those who wrote the rules?  Curious?  And during the government shutdown who steps forward to keep open our national parks, veteran benefits etc.?  That's right ... individuals, charities, small businesses & local governments!

But don't worry ... be happy!  I'm still bullish on America!  God has blessed us with freedom and immense natural (plus human) resources.  I believe these twin pillars will bail us out yet again by improving trade balances, providing technology solutions (I wish Amazon managed the health care exchanges vs. a Canadian software company) and reinvigorating our manufacturing competitiveness. Thus allowing us to endure, despite Union County, Trenton and Washington, D.C.  But be careful or we're going to let them knock those pillars down too.  Vote wisely & pray often!

Respectfully,

Tom Garvey

President Summit Taxpayers Association