2021 JERSEY CITY BUDGET

During Summer 2021 I'll be writing about the proposed city budget - $620M in total - which was introduced in June and is likely to be passed sometime in July.

Taxpayers have an interest in ensuring tax dollars are being spent in a manner we both understand and can support. We cannot engage this process if we cannot understand the budget itself. So this series is an attempt to break open and understand the budget, in community. Read more...

LATEST ANALYSIS

In one chart: Jersey City’s seismic change in tax levies fully funds the schools and reallocates property tax

In 2021, Jersey City is poised to both fully fund its schools and also enter a new paradigm with respect to property tax. Let's review what's happening based on four key insights; we'll use the graph below as a pictorial guide through the fiscal nuance. The chart below shows year-on-year change to Jersey City's state education aid (the gray line), the school levy (the dark red line) and the city levy (the blue line).  Read more...

RECENT ANALYSIS

NJ’s “Cost Per Pupil” is a flawed comparison of school district cost.

On its face, the NJ Department of Education's "cost-per-pupil" is an inviting metric upon which to compare and contrast school spending among New Jersey's 600+ districts. However, cost-per-pupil is misleading as it distorts the intentional, extra investment for students with more needs, including at-risk students and students with limited English proficiency.  Specifically, the intentionally extra investment - mandated by the state's school funding law - can be misinterpreted as "overspending."  The Education Law Center highlighted this issue back in 2010, quoting Melvin Wyns, former head of the Division of Finance for the NJ Department of Education, who called cost-per-pupil "highly inappropriate and misleading." 

Let's dig into the nuance, because it matters for equity.  To help anchor and contextualize the discussion, I will compare Jersey City (in Hudson County) to Summit (in Union County). Read more...

EMPOWERING CIVICS

CivicParent is rooted in sharing public tax data, insights, and analysis with the public.

I am a licensed CPA with a background in public accounting, tax and technology client service, and business analytics. I currently teach at the Frank J. Guarini School of Business at Saint Peter's University. I believe civics - and community - can be strengthened when the public can more easily access and understand public data; including budgets, school aid, school enrollment, property tax data, and more.

CivicParent is a 100% volunteer effort. I welcome comments and questions via email at Brigid@CivicParent.org. You can learn more about Civic Parent's roots here.

TOPICAL ANALYSIS...

Learn about local public finance in the Garden State

PUBLIC BUDGETS
City budgets including statewide comparisons of revenue and expense on a per-municipal basis using the standardized "User Friendly Budget" report.

Learn more

TAX ABATEMENTS

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.

Learn more

PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Using statewide data available from the NJ Department of Education data site, compare enrollment, school funding, and state aid across the Garden State.

Learn more

PROPERTY TAXES
Learn about property taxes including the tax base and the three component levies (municipal, county, and schools).

Learn more

PROPERTY REVALUATION

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.

Learn more

JCPS FUNDING CRISIS

Despite unprecedented municipal growth, Jersey City Public Schools are $100+ million underfunded. Jersey City's public school students sit at the intersection of tax abatements, state aid, and local property taxes.

Learn more

NEW JERSEY: BY THE NUMBERS

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.

1

State

21

Counties

565

Municipalities

650+

School Districts

FEATURED VISUALIZATION

PUTTING PUBLIC DATA INTO PERSONAL CONTEXT

This visualization shows data from NJ's 2019 property tax tables. It shows both the size of tax bases throughout the Garden State and the equalization ratio for each tax base (the equalization ratio shows the relationship between the tax base's assessed value and equalized (or market) value).

Each circle is a tax base. There are 565 tax bases represented; the larger the circle, the larger the tax base. There are also 565 equalization ratios; the darker the red, the lower the equalization ratio. To learn more about the equalization ratios and how it factors into property taxes and property revaluation, click here.

FEATURED DATA SET

EXPLORE PUBLIC DATA

This is the dataset for the visualization above showing select data from NJ's 2019 property tax tables.  The property tax tables are published annually by the NJ Division of Taxation. The source data is available via Excel/CSV download here. I downloaded the dataset to Excel and then created a Tableau visualization to enable CivicParent readers to drill into and explore based on your interest. You can filter and sort this data based on:

  • County (use the drop-down box to select or unselect one or more counties)
  • Municipality (this will update based on the "County" selection)
  • Equalization Ratio (use the sliding scale to create min or max values)

You can also sort the data using the column header auto-sort option (hover over a column header and wait for the down or up arrow to appear).

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Stay in the loop on new content & analysis.