As Fair as Can Be

Jul 05, 2017

To the Editor:

In response to Bob Danna and Mike Songer (“Archaic Formula,” 6/28) and Bill Hutson (“Is This Fair?” 6/28), the statistical model the trickster uses to explain the regional school tax can be put into an equation: x divided by y equals an unfair tax. X is the regional school tax collected from a geographical location and y is the number of students who attend the regional school from that arbitrary geographic location. The trickster’s statistical result is always the same: an unfair tax.

There is no “fair tax.” However, property taxes and thus school taxes are as “fair” a tax as there is because property taxes are regressive. Regressive taxes are based on the value of an item, not on the ability to pay for that item. This is as close to a flat tax as it gets.

If LBI had 3,000 more students enrolled in the regional school, would the trickster be happy with the regional school tax because the cost per pupil in his mind would be much less? Your cost, the amount you pay, is the concern, not the cost per pupil as defined by the trickster.

Island-wide, the total property tax on LBI is about 1 percent of assessed value. In Ship Bottom the regional and local school tax made up about 25 percent of the total 2016 tax bill. A 1 percent tax rate and school taxes at 25 percent of the total tax bill are nothing to complain about.

Mr. Danna and Mr. Songer, the voters in Ship Bottom know this. That is why they have chosen me to represent them on the consolidated school board and then on the borough council for the last 23 years.

If you and your association members feel so strongly about “unfair” school taxes why don’t you all change your domicile to Harvey Cedars? That would allow you to vote locally. You could run and elect someone to a seat on the school board. I am not sure, but I suspect some of your  association members do not want to claim Harvey Cedars as their domicile because then they would have to pay New Jersey income tax.

I would not be surprised if I have to address this again, in about 10 years, when it is rediscovered by another aggrieved party that LBI is rich in ratables.

Tom Tallon

Ship Bottom

Comments (1)
Posted by: Jean D Ragone | Jul 06, 2017 08:05

No, the tax system is not as "fair as fair can be."  Your flippant suggestion that people simply declare HC as their domicile is ridiculous. Many people who have homes on the Island have their principle residence in NJ and DO pay NJ income tax and pay RE taxes in multiple locations. The thrust of the problem is that the majority of taxpayers on the Island have little to no say as to how the school district spends those taxpayer dollars. It truly is taxation without representation for the majority of property owners. The fairer solution would be to put a cap on the assessed value for school tax purposes.

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