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...Continue reading
The “User Friendly Budget”, Part 2: What’s in the User Friendly Budget?
This is part of a series about the User Friendly Budget. This is a relatively short post to lay out what’s in the User Friendly Budget. I also want to share some of how I think this file can be used by taxpayers and advocates. As I explained in the first post in this series,...Continue reading
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 collects...Continue reading
Jersey City’s Proposed 2020 Budget (Tableau #DataViz)
In February 2020 the City Council introduced its 2020 budget (the city has typically approved the annual budget only in the summer / Quarter 3 timeframe — I don’t know the reason for the lag, only that the lag exists). Upon release of the budget, I converted the PDF into Excel and then uploaded to...
Demystifying the City Budget (A Retro-Look at the 2019 Budget)
To help taxpayers access the annual city budget, I've visualized it the 2019/20 proposed budget in Tableau, a data visualization software. Tableau puts the power of analysis in the user's hands; my hope is that YOU will dig into this budget data and feel empowered to engage, or perhaps more fully engage, the annual budgeting...Continue reading
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, pet...Continue reading
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 back...
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 eye...
Demand Fair Property Taxation: Using the Equalization Ratio as a Civic Tool
How can taxpayers ensure that local municipal and county governments are keeping property taxes fair and balanced? One suggestion: make sure that assessed values, i.e. the value of properties on the tax rolls, fairly reflect market values. One way we can do that is to refer to the annual equalization ratio, also known as “the...Continue reading
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 base...
Jersey City: Who in City Council & the NJ State Legislature Represents Your School?
To help parents and taxpayers understand (a) what schools are in their neighborhood and/or (b) which elected representatives are tied to which schools, I’ve mapped all 40 Jersey City Public Schools (along with accompanying basic profile information, as listed on the JCPS Website) against 2 map layers: Jersey City Ward (each ward is represented by a...Continue reading