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Jersey City Municipal Budgets: a high level visual review of 2015 through 2023

The municipal budget is hyper detailed but when we summarize it we can see a basic pattern that repeats each year:

  • The majority of the municipal budget is salaries and benefits (aka “people cost”) for city employees (with police and fire being the biggest departments with the most employees).
  • Taxpayers collectively help fund this investment through the city tax levy. Abatement PILOT fees are another revenue (and offset to the property tax), followed by state aid and other sources.
  • As Jersey City is growing, so is its structural expense, and so is the city tax levy to help pay for it all.

There is nuance to all of this and lots of detail worth diving into; that said, my aim is to keep this rather basic and provide the big picture view

The local levy as connection between taxpayer and the local budget

There are three local levies: the school levy, the municipal levy, and the county levy.  The levy is often the primary funding source for local government, particularly the schools; by contrast, municipalities and counties have other revenue sources they can use including PILOT fees, court-related fees, and local revenues (e.g. parking related monies).  And the state can (and does) impose levy “caps” that limit the levy from increasing by certain threshold percentages each year; this nuance is beyond the scope of this post but is still worth noting.

Jersey City’s 2022 tax hikes & Q3 and Q4 tax bill flux, explained

In late October 2022, Jersey City’s municipal council passed its annual 2022 budget with a $112 million increase to the city levy. This action capped a year of change in Jersey City’s property tax landscape; school tax and city tax have both increased. Residents saw these increases in their tax bills, but what can make this somewhat confusing is that the rates are not approved until the second half of the year. Thus, not only did tax expense going up, but it also increased in a lump-sum manner in the third and fourth quarters.

This post breaks aims to break it down for taxpayers.


While we are one Garden State, we are fragmented by county, town, and school district. This has implications with property tax, including school & city taxes.








School Districts

CivicParent Series

Learn about local public finance in the Garden State


Learn about the local government budget process and property tax.  My hope is for this series to be a practical roadmap for taxpayers who may want to engage the local budget and related property tax expense.

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This is a multi-year series that I began in 2019 and have continued each year to unpack my local budget in Jersey City. Understanding your local municipal budget is one important step in understanding what is driving your property tax expense..

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Since 2018 I have been closely following the school budget process in Jersey City. This coincided with the enactment of the "S2" law which was the phased reduction of state aid from Jersey City.

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This series unpacks the 'User Friendly Budget' to enable exploration of local municipal budgets across the Garden State.

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Learn the who/what/when/where/why of property revaluation through a series that uses Jersey City as a case study. In 2018, Jersey City conducted its first revaluation in 30 years.

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A full series unpacks the topic of tax abatements including the intersection of city and school funding. Jersey City, the largest grantor of tax abatements in NJ, is used as a case study.

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