Monday, July 5, 2010

A special note to my fellow New Jersey residents.

I had some idea what I was going to write about today, but in between that and turning the computer on, I've lost track. The Independence Day weekend is winding down, and I'm one of the fortunate few to have Monday off, so I can spend a few minutes in quiet contemplation.
Showing fireworks on television is one of our stranger customs. Most of the lure of fireworks is the expanse of the explosion over your head and the shock of the explosion when the boom rattles your stomach a little. I don't sense any of that on TV. Television compresses the event to a screen-wide view, and the accompanying music is always louder than the explosions - not that it would help much. My TV sound isn't going to rattle anything.
The other big event around here is traffic. One of the reasons I'm up at 3:45 working on this mess is that I made a late-night trip home from a friend's and wound up in shore traffic at 2:30am. 2:30am. am. I was in traffic at 2:30am on the Atlantic City Expressway. "Express" is a relative term. Since Atlantic City added casinos in 1977 the traffic has tripled on a road that was designed and built in the 1960s. It was backed up 10 miles heading west to the wonderful Egg Harbor Toll Plaza, which takes $3.00 of fun out of your holiday weekend. The other part of the fun it sucks from you is the fun of driving 65mph.
There is an EZ-Pass lane or two, but folks like me who had the forethought to purchase an EZ-Pass ("EZ" is a relative term) still have to wait in traffic with people who are paying cash because the implementation of the EZ pass a few years ago added another wrinkle to a road that was already antiquated. Even if they had a high-speed EZ Pass lane, it would take you so long to get to it that "high speed" would be a relative term.
Amidst all this, the state of New Jersey is about to implement a 2% cap on property tax increases each year. That's wonderful unless you believe, like me, that capping taxes at 2% does two things: First, it insures that taxes will increase by at least 2% per year and second, it means that there won't be enough money to pay for the new services that will be required by our burgeoning population.
I had an economics professor at Widener University who told us, "Whenever you hear a politician say 'no new taxes' you can translate it to mean 'no new services.'" It costs money to provide police, fire, trash collection and other municipal services. The money comes from ... anyone? ... taxes. Your property taxes. If they already don't have enough money to pay for the necessary services, then how will they be able to pay for them in 3 years when the population of some municipalities will rise by 10% to 20%, but taxes will only have risen 6%? There's some complicated math, but I think you get the picture.
I haven't heard one of the property tax cap supporters propose similar legislation to put a cap on new home construction. It seems to me that the two concepts are ideal together.
So, hold your breath that our legislators can figure that out because I'm not that smart, and I figured it out.

1 comment:

Anon... said...

HOLY COW... traffic that early (or late) really sucks... Never thought that would have happened... Maybe a stay in Atlantic County might have been better... Enjoy your day my friend...