I have in my possession a response from the Department of Community Affairs, State of New Jersey in answer to my letter addressed to Governor Corzine, which apparently never reached his office. The letter from the DCA implied the “Regional Efficiency Assistance Program,” known as REAP which afforded tax relief to the property owners in the five towns who had Regionalized their Fire Departments being reduced or eventually eliminated despite efforts and pressure by our Mayors on the Governor to continue to fully fund the endeavor.
I wonder how many readers of this article are aware REAP is tax relief for property owners residing in Guttenberg, North Bergen, Union City, Weehawken and West New York.
I have been informed the tax relief had been from $350.00 to $500.00 per year for each property owner in the five Communities, depending upon the tax structure of the locale. The merger agreements and incentives were presented by former Governor Whitman during the mid 1990s, and the project to merge services was available to all cities and towns in the State. The regionalization idea accepted by our administrators has been saving property owners tax dollars since about 1999 and created one of the better Fire Departments in the State, The North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue, which played a large part in the “miracle on the Hudson rescue,” and they were honored for their participation. If there is going to be finger pointing due to the tax increases, property owners should be furious with Trenton and the office of the Governor who took money away from five communities where their administrators accepted an idea, and an offer presented by a former Governor to assist overburdened tax payers while developing an advanced professional fire department.
Let me make this clear, I don’t have an agenda nor do I have anything to gain by showing my wrath for this betrayal, but a deal is a deal, an agreement is an agreement, and while I volunteered my time on the team, which put the Regional Department together, later serving as the first chairman of the Management committee, I was elated for the property owners residing in the five communities who would be receiving tax relief along with improved fire protection.
Point your fingers toward Trenton and demand the Regional Efficiency Acceptance Program be maintained immediately! Call your representatives and save the tax dollars you deserve before it’s too late. Send emails, make phone calls, send letters, get back what you deserve…tax relief. In my opinion the loss of the funding indicates a tax increase from Trenton.
Robert A. Aiello
Retired Chief, West New York Dept.
Former chairman/member, North Hudson Regional Fire Dept.