Jersey City 2021 Budget: 160 abatements on city’s books; visualizations on abatement type, value, PILOTs, and taxes if billed in full

This is part of a series on the 2021 city budget. The spirit of this series is: I’m interested in unpacking the budget and sharing as I go. In that same spirit, I’m sharing interactive Tableau data visualizations that help others dig into the budget. See the full serieshere. The 2021 budget documents are...

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

A "levy" is the amount raised in property tax to fund a government budget. Typically, a levy is one of multiple sources of revenue that fund total expense. 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...

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CivicParent NJ Property Tax Viewer: 2020 Levies

The 2020 property tax tables for calendar year 2020 are now available. This data provides insight into the way municipal, county, and local public school governments share the total tax dollars each year. The dataset at the link contains: Tax base data Tax levy data – this is what I’ve visualized below Tax rate...

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Abatements 701 & The “User Friendly Budget”, part 5 – Abatements (with a Jersey City Focus)

Note: the visualizations below are best viewed on a computer or tablet (vs a phone). Jersey City recently announced it was terminating an abatement on four buildings within the Beacon complex. The reason: “ownership defaulted on an obligation to retain and present employee records, city officials announced.” This is a good reminder that abatements...

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CivicParent NJ Property Tax Viewer – 2019 Levies

Last month (October 2020) the state published the 2019 property tax tables. This is a “look back” at the local property tax landscape in New Jersey. It’s a wonderful treasure trove of public data from municipal, county, and local public school governments including: Tax base data Tax levy data Tax rate data Property appeals...

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The “User Friendly Budget”, Part 4b: Public Health & Public Safety (with Focus on Police) Spending in the Garden State

This is a post in a series about NJ's User Friendly Budget. My intent is to share basic analysis and insights with community as a way to encourage taxpayers to engage with this document and learn more about local public finance. Read the other posts in this series here including how to access your town's UFB and...

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The “User Friendly Budget”, Part 4a: View Your Town’s Structural Spending with the “UFB-3 Appropriations Summary” Data

This is a post in a series about NJ's User Friendly Budget. My intent is to share basic analysis and insights with community as a way to encourage taxpayers to engage with this document and learn more about local public finance. Read the other posts in this series here including how to access your town's...

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The “User Friendly Budget”, Part 3: the “Cover Page”, an Inventory of NJ’s 565 Municipalities, & An Overview of How UFB Data was Compiled

This is a post in a series about NJ’s User Friendly Budget. My intent is to share basic analysis and insights with community as a way to encourage taxpayers to engage with this document and learn more about local public finance. Read the other posts in this series here including how to access your town’s...

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The “User Friendly Budget”, Part 1: Intro to the Series & How to Access the UFB

Five years ago, New Jersey began mandating that every municipality* in New Jersey file a “User Friendly Budget (UFB)” as part of the annual budgeting process. This file is “user friendly” for a few reasons: The data is aggregated in unique ways that help us see the structural nature of how the city both...

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A Closer Look at Jersey City’s School Tax Rate. Part 2: Statewide Comparisons & the Role of the Tax Base

This is the second in a 4-part series about 2018 school tax rates, with a focus on Jersey City. This series will use public data that I have visualized in Tableau here. To read the first post in the series, click here. “How does Jersey City’s school tax rate compare with the rest of...

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Jersey City: Approximately $40 Million of School Tax is Locked Up in Abatement Contracts

This is part of a series about the 2019/20 proposed municipal and schools budgets in Jersey City. Jersey City’s proposed 2019/20 municipal budget shows that over $120 million in PILOT fees are expected to be collected in in the coming year.  What is notable about PILOT fees is that they don’t contribute to the...

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Jersey City’s 2019/20 Proposed Budget: Visualized APPROPRIATIONS (Expenses)

Every municipality must pay for services that are then consumed by its residents. These services include: Police force (eg the JCPD) Fire department Road maintenance for city roads (a note on roads...in Jersey City, Ocean Avenue, Eerie Street, and Manhattan Avenue are city roads, thus they are maintained with city funds...however JFK Boulevard is...

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Jersey City’s 2019/20 Proposed Budget: Visualized Revenues

Every municipality is funded by a mix of income streams, including: Property taxes (everyone pays property tax...you either pay it directly if you're a property owner, or you pay it to your landlord. Your rent includes the cost of property tax) State Aid Local Revenues - these are user-fee income streams like marriage licenses,...

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How does Jersey City Spend Its Money? A Data Visualization of Budgets from 2015-2018

As we look towards the coming weeks and months, two local governing bodies are undergoing a public budgeting process: The Board of Education will be determining the 2019/20 schools budget. The city of Jersey City will be determining the 2019 municipal budget. A key question is: how can taxpayers engage? How can we peel...

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NJ Property Tax Dashboard: Updated for 2018 w/ Jersey City Highlights

Every year, the state of NJ publishes property tax data on the Department of Community Affairs website. I have combined all the available data, for tax years 1998 through the most recently published data for 2018, into one tabulation and visualized it in Tableau.  This dashboard is intended to provide taxpayers with a bird's...

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NJ Property Tax Dashboard | #OpenData #DataViz

This is a property tax dashboard for NJ residents who may be interested in learning about the property tax profile of their municipality, including: 1) Latest available (Tax Year 2017) property tax metrics available from NJ’s Property Tax portal. 2) Tax base growth chart from 1988 to 2017 – how has your town’s tax...

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Op-Ed Follow-Up: Get the Facts & Figures About Abatements & Public School Funding in Jersey City

I teamed up with Ellen Simon to co-author an op-ed in The Jersey Journal about how Jersey City’s PILOT policy harms our public schools. The article is dense with facts, figures, and assertions. To ensure our assertions are as accessible as possible to the public, I’ve created a landing page to help readers sort through...

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Jersey Journal Op-Ed Highlights PILOT vs. Public Schools Tension in Jersey City

I teamed up with Ellen Simon, a friend, fellow public school parent, and former board trustee of the Jersey City BOE, to co-author an op-ed in the Jersey Journal. The topic: how Jersey City’s PILOT policy “robs” funding from our public schools.  The term “rob” is not ours…to find out who did coin the term, in...

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Mapping Jersey City’s Abatements by Project Type and Ward

If you are new to the topic of abatements, I recommend my tax abatement series here.  I’ve updated my 2015 long-term abatement map to include 2016 data. The map is provided below, along with reports showing underlying data grouped by project type (affordable housing vs. market) and by ward. Source data was derived from the city’s user...

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Jersey City PILOTs Rob Funding from the School System

A strong public school system is essential bedrock to a healthy community. Yet in Jersey City, our bedrock is threatened by a fiscal policy that is over-reliant on PILOTs.  Here’s the crux of the problem: PILOTs help grow the city, which in turn increases demand for public schools.  But PILOTed residents don’t pay school tax, leaving taxpayers to bear the burden...

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Mapping Abatements in Jersey City

As I explained in my last post, transparency around abatements is finally, slowly, increasing.  As data is unlocked, taxpayers can glean greater insight into how their tax dollars are spent.  To help with this effort, I’ve mapped the 146 abatements from Jersey City’s 2015 “user friendly budget” into an easy-to-use Google map. Let’s Get Civic...

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Tax Abatements 601: Brighter Sunshine Mandated for NJ Abatements

Tax abatement reporting in Jersey City is finally getting more transparent.  Two distinct authoritative bodies have mandated changes that require Jersey City (and other cities) to get onboard the transparency train. This news should come as a relief to taxpayers since abatements now constitute over 20% of Jersey City’s annual revenue yet have been sharply criticized by the NJ Comptroller as being too opaque...

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Press Releases, Property Taxes, and the Value of Spin

Mayor Fulop announced last week the hiring of a new communications director for Jersey City, 26-year old Ryan Jacobs, at a salary of $110,000.  The current communications director, Jennifer Morrill, earns $100,614 and will remain as press secretary “to assist…with day to day operations.”  Jersey City taxpayers are now paying over $200,000 for spokesperson duties. A...

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