Letters to the Editor

Status Report #3

a3320a1b684a25d4255f_mini_magick20170622-396-17f8asd.jpg
a3320a1b684a25d4255f_mini_magick20170622-396-17f8asd.jpg

I have now been on Council for one and half years and this is my third status report. In this update, I would like to focus upon taxes. We are all keenly aware that New Jersey residents pay the highest property taxes in the nation, and each year they goes up. In the early 1990s, approximately 75% of property taxes in Summit were paid by residential property owners—today the proportion is 82% and climbing. Thus, even if expenses had remained static, residents would feel an increased burden.    

Part of the reason that residential construction comprises a greater percentage is the investment in our housing stock.  As the City Administrator pointed out in a recent meeting, in the first quarter of 2017, construction inspections are up 6%, and construction valuation has increased 28.5% over 2016 numbers.  The other part of the reason is the decrease in valuation for commercial/industrial property.  For example, when Celgene purchased the former Merck site, which comprises in excess of 80 acres, it had a market value in excess of $350 Million.  However, with a purchase price of $90 Million, Celgene will be paying significantly less in taxes than Merck once a settlement is structured.  This decrease in commercial and industrial ratables comes at a particularly sensitive time.  In the short term, the City confronts, among other things, deferred capital projects; increased personnel and benefits costs due to, in part, the seniority of our staff; and rising debt servicing costs.  

As I have noted in prior status updates, increasing ratables is one method to reduce homeowners’ property taxes. Now that the Master Plan has been completed, a number of prospective development projects are being floated. Development, however, is a two-edged sword.  On the one hand, there are increased tax receipts and potentially increased foot traffic in the downtown.  Development can also lead to different housing options that may be more suitable for seniors and young couples.  On the other hand, there are real concerns about traffic and changes in the character of the town.  As these projects are presented to Council or Planning Board, I will keep you informed.   

Sign Up for E-News

We also need to think of development in the context of mega trends.  As we all know, online retail is undermining downtowns and malls across the country.  To encourage foot traffic, we need to create experiences that are not simply transactional — experiences that cannot be duplicated online.  I would argue that we need entertainment options and/or a supermarket in or near the downtown.  I also think there would be benefit to expanding the incorporation of art and artistic endeavors into the downtown experience. We already have a strong effort to beautify our town through artistic pieces, but there is more that can be done through private or public-private efforts.  

Taxes can only be contained if expenses are addressed.  This year, the City’s share of taxes increased by 0.84%, which was less than either the school or County tax increases.  Nonetheless, I have been opposing spending monies on what I describe as “things we want” versus “things we need.” The most recent incarnation of this issue is the proposed $300,000 on “cobblestones” on Beechwood Avenue.  Initially, this was represented as something that would assist downtown businesses. However, based on my subsequent conversations with downtown business owners and tenants, as well as hearing more about what this project would entail, I am increasingly convinced that monies can be spent better or not spent at all.  One area, however, where I do think we should invest is preventative maintenance. Last year, Council spent $1.9 million on “emergency repairs” for the tiered garage; this year, it was $300,000 on repairs to the Cornhog Field House. In both instances, if preventive maintenance measures had been taken, such expenses may not have been necessary. This is something that Council needs to address in next year’s budgeting process in order to save monies in the future.  

As always, I want to hear from you about what think we should do. Feel free to reach out to me.

David Naidu, Summit Common Council Member, Ward I

 

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Summit

Status Report #5

June 20, 2018

As summer fast approaches, this will be my fifth semi-annual status report on what I have been up to on Council.  In a change from the prior two years, this year I have been serving as Council president. As such, I have had greater involvement across a multitude of different issues.  However, I want to focus on three themes that have so far permeated this Council: economic growth and ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_92eaadab4fea5d764092_edc2dcd4802a1c409d7c_screen_shot_2018-04-03_at_1.15.57_pm

Sun, June 24, 8:00 AM

Summit Summer Farmers Market, Summit

Summit Farmers Market

Community Calendar Food & Drink Green Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_5e177eaae57739064cd4_397f63ad2fb50392a776_29178074_2107642336134787_2638697507160326144_n

Sun, June 24, 11:00 AM

Totowa

MakerFest 2018

Summit Police Blotter

June 19, 2018

5/29 - Mark L. Howard, 21, of Nutley was arrested and charged with burglary, theft by unlawful taking and credit card fraud. Mr. Howard was processed and released with a pending court date.

5/29 - At 1143 hours a report was taken for a theft of stolen license plate from a River Road business. The victim reported the last time the license plate was seen on the property was within the ...

Video: Dietze Says Despite Trade War Fears, Economy's Fundamentals Remain Strong

June 20, 2018

Point View Wealth Management's Founder, President and Chief Investment Strategist, David Dietze, live from the CNN building on the case for bullishness despite a potential trade war:

ptview.com/medias/tv-radio

For more than 25 years, Point View Wealth Management, Inc. has been working with families in Summit and beyond, providing customized portfolio management services ...

Video: Point View's Petrides Talks U.S.-China Tariff Tussle's Market Impact

Point View Wealth Management's Managing Director and Portfolio Manager, John Petrides, live on Cheddar.com discussing the market impact resulting from tariffs between the United States and China:

ptview.com/medias/tv-radio

​​​​​For more than 25 years, Point View Wealth Management, Inc. has been working with families in Summit and beyond, providing customized portfolio ...

Maximizing Your Portfolio’s Returns -- Beware the Taxman

The old adage in the investment world is that it is not what you make, but what you keep that counts.  Investors often overlook the ultimate deflator of portfolio returns – the taxman. An astute global asset allocation should be the number one priority for investors.  However, there are preferred ways to distribute this asset allocation over the spectrum of taxable and ...

Video: In The Zone with Christa Anderson

A must watch for anyone considering renovations, here is a recent interview that I conducted -- on my HomeTowne TV Show called “Are You Ready for Life?” -- with Christa Anderson, City of Summit Zoning Officer, to discuss the nuances within the variance process.

I asked Christa to shed some insight into the approval process, explain why it’s necessary, and ...

Hello, Neighbors

Hi, Summit families!

My name is Betsy Stoeber and I’ve been the owner and director at the specialized learning center Brain Balance of Summit since 2011. I first encountered Brain Balance the year before we opened as a parent. My own son participated in our innovative program at the center in Norwalk, CT, to address a number of learning challenges.

Traveling there three times per week ...

My So-Called Graduation

The last of my children graduated from high school.  

 

My son and daughter threw their caps high into the air and cheered their liberation from one symbolic institution before contemplating their matriculation into other, much larger institutions significantly further away.  

 

Or at least far enough away that they won’t be needing rides home from ...