HUDSON COUNTY - Gov. Chris Christie presented a three-point plan to alleviate local property taxes in New Jersey, a state that he said has seen a 70 percent jump in property taxes over the last decade, in a meeting in Hoboken on Monday morning.
With the Garden State facing a $10 billion deficit, municipalities and local school districts have gotten massive cuts in state aid from Christie's administration this year.
Some towns have reacted by filling the revenue gap by increasing property taxes, rather than (or in addition to) making tough layoffs and other cuts.
Christie, however, said he wants to end the trend of raising property taxes by curbing the percentage by which municipalities can raise them to a few percent a year.
The centerpiece of the governor's plan, which he calls a "toolkit," is a constitutional amendment that would cap annual municipal property taxes at 2.5 percent. Any municipality that wanted to raise taxes above 2.5 percent would have to get voter approval to do so.
Changes in labor arbitration and civil service jobs comprise the rest of Christie's tax relief plan.
Rising public sector labor costs are another driving factor in local tax increases, and Christie has proposed limiting raises as well.
The 90-minute event was billed as a public "town hall meeting," although most of those in attendance where elected officials and political activists. They included Democratic Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer.
Christie's staff said the governor plans to hold at least three or four similar "town hall" meetings across the state before the end of June to build support for the toolkit.
Christie is asking the state legislature to pass the proposal next month. If approved in Trenton, voters would be given the opportunity to approve or reject the proposal in the November general election - E. Assata Wright