Mortgage escrow shortage again? Time to stop "banking the 2% CAP , and "open space" abuse, in Gloucester twp and around the state of NJ.

Gloucester Township, Camden County, NJ January 9, 2019

It happens time and time again. Every year you get a notice from your mortgage company, telling you that your mortgage escrow is short, $200-$600.
You can choose to either, make a lump sum payment or your mortgage payment goes up again. One of the main reasons that happens is your PROPERTY TAXES went up again.
There are a handful of items that make up your property taxes, but no matter what they ALL keep going up. Local, regional schools, Fire, county, and local.

The state of New Jersey has what's called a 2% tax CAP on all counties, and municipalities, which means that they can not raise taxes over 2% in any given year. That all sounds good for taxpayers until you find out the loopholes, and how local politicians get around that.

A perfect example of this is a regular practice in Gloucester Township, Camden county. It is so well practiced, that it has become easily predictable for those that pay attention.
In Gloucester Township, you can predict that they will pass bonds in an election year, so as not to visually indicate a tax increase. Every other year, elections are held for 4 council seats, and in every other odd year, Mayor and 3 council seats are up. So in those election years, they will continue to spend, as if it isn't their money, and it's not, but they way that they pay for it in the way of bonds. Keep in mind that one of their friends, and donors makes a generous commission on bonds. So they run up the taxpayer's credit cards while "no raising taxes".

In the meantime, while not raising the state maximum 2% in taxes that borrowing year, they "BANK" the 2% CAP. This means that they can raise it that same 2% another year along with the additional 2% that year. The state allows them to bank that CAP up to 4 years. So in a normal election cycle, that works out perfect for those up for re-election. This was done in prior years in GT. Most will remember the 9% increase just 4 years after the Mayor and council raised it 4 years prior, and hefty 26%, before the CAP was put in place.

This banking practice, allowed by the state is being over used by local politicians.

Speaking of abuse, Gloucester Township and Camden county tax residents an additional 2% every year for what is CALLED "open space". To define open space in it's simplest form,is to say that a lot of money is taken from taxpayers to do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING with a piece of land. The current use by CamCo and GT, is an adventure all in itself. What it was designed for, and the way that it is abused now, is an understatement.

May it be overpriced astro turf. concession stands, sports facilities, or other high end, overpriced items, it tends to contradict, "open space". It is also intended to mislead and confuse, and the twp has been known to borrow for the same thing that they bonded and borrowed for, later is labeled as "open space" or grant money, so multiple sources, but the amounts are the same, to 2 times the amount of the project, but that's what makes the money trail intentionally harder to follow.

With all of that abuse being said, the equally troubling part is the 2 local NJ Assembly representatives that not only allow this to go on, but encourage it.
NJ Legislators in the 4th district, Gabriela Mosquera (D) (Gloucester Twp), along with Paul Moriarty (D) (Washington Twp), could easily introduce legislation to end this absurd practice of "banking" the 2% CAP and stop the practice of piling up future tax increases to their residents. They could also set the open space program straight and back on it's intended course, or end the annual extortion like tax burden to the taxpaying residents. Both Moriarty and Mosquera are seen usually at some public awards, or recognition ceremony, but mostly they stay out of sight. With the state of New Jersey having the highest number of departing residents, you won't be able to count of either of them to bring any relief to the taxpayers.

So, be it the "open space" or 2% CAP, you can count on your local politicians, to abuse them, and your Assembly representatives to continue to feed them the ability to do so.
The forecast is very bleak, and no relief is in sight.