Taxpayer Guide to Education Spending – Total Spending Per Pupil (#OpenData Visualization)

An explanation of “Total Spending per Pupil”, from the NJ Department of Education: “The Taxpayers’ Guide to Education Spending (Taxpayers’ Guide) provides the public the opportunity to view and compare all dollars spent on students enrolled in the public school system. In 2010-11, the Department updated this publication (previously the “Comparative Spending Guide”) to add […]

NJ Public Schools – Diversity Dashboard Using Income, Race, & ESL Data

I was prompted by this tweet by Alpha Sigma Nu to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Jan 21, 2019). When I saw the tweet, the first thought that popped into my head was “better understand and share about school diversity.” There is a dataset I’ve been dabbling with for quite some time now; it’s the […]

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 […]

School Funding & Property Tax 202: The School Tax Levy

This is part of series about school funding, property tax, and community in Jersey City. To read other posts in this series, click here.  In my previous post, I wrote about the tax base: what it is, how we can find its value in public records, and how Jersey City’s value compares with other towns […]

School Funding & Property Tax 201: The Tax Base

This is part of series about school funding, property tax, and community in Jersey City. I’m learning about Jersey City’s tax base, tax levies, and property tax profile so that I can better understand our school funding paradigm. I’m sharing with the community, through this platform, as I learn. To read see the full series, […]

School Funding 502: NJ Department of Education Data & Reports

This is a quick initial post to point taxpayers to an excellent resource for rich, official public data about our public schools here in NJ. The NJ Department of Education (NJ DOE) has, for at least the past 10 years, published a host of different datasets on its “DOE Data & Reports” page. The data […]

JCPS Funding Crisis: An Overview

Jersey City Public Schools Funding Crisis Based on the state funding formula, Jersey City Public Schools are currently $100 million under-funded.  Jersey City students, parents, teachers, and staff experience this under-funding everyday. This is a structural deficit and a threat to our school system, our city, and our community. Get the facts, connect in community, […]

“Jersey City Public Schools are *Structurally* Underfunded”…What does this mean?

This started out as a Facebook post on my CivicParent Facebook page. I’ve turned it into a quick post, for posterity & to help explain some of the financial mechanics of Jersey City’s under-funding crisis. “Jersey City’s public schools under-funding is a structural problem” – what does this mean, exactly? Here’s one way to look […]

Jersey City & NJ: Student Group Data from NJ School Performance Reports (A Focus on ELL, At-Risk, and Special Education Students)

The NJ Department of Education publishes annual data relating to certain “student groups”, per school. The table below focuses on three groups that, per state funding law, are entitled to more funding based on the level of need. These groups are: At-risk students, defined as lower income students who qualify for free or reduced lunch […]

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 […]

NJ Special Education Statistics | #DataViz #OpenData

In this post I’m sharing statewide special education data, with ability to drill into Jersey City special education data specifically, for both Jersey City Public Schools (the public school system) and charter schools attended by Jersey City students. I am sharing the statewide data because it’s informing to see the varying degrees of special education […]

Jersey City: How Your City Council Voted on Tax Abatements

Shown below are details about abatements that City Council President Rolando Lavarro voted for between the time period July 2013 and August 2016. By sharing this data, the aim is to better inform the public about the scope and impact of the Council’s abatement votes. More to come about other Council representatives’ abatement voting records.

Jersey City’s Taxpayer Funded Schools: Enrollment Overview with Focus on Income Diversity

The charts below show enrollment data for Jersey City Public Schools. The Jersey City Public Schools system is the 39-school district under the purview of the Jersey City Board of Education (BOE) and is funded through taxpayer dollars. Public charter schools also receive taxpayer dollars, but they are operated and overseen independently of the JC […]

Jersey City Public Schools – A Public Good Requiring Public Funding

Jersey City Public Schools is the city’s largest public good, funded through a combination of state, local, and to a lesser degree, federal tax dollars. In 2018/19 the public schools budget was over $600 million; this is larger than the city’s entire budget.  The schools are a public good because they educate the vast majority […]

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 […]

Jersey City Property Tax Appeals: A Civic Step-by-Step Overview

For the past 4 years I’ve been researching and writing about property taxes and revaluation (among other topics) on CivicParent. In the past year I’ve also written about tax appeals and I also served on a team of Jersey City Together volunteers in 2017 that helped over 30 residents save over $40,000 in tax expense […]

Jersey City Funding Crisis: Banked Cap, Explained

Jersey City Public Schools: CivicParent Funding FAQs I have been trying to understand how Jersey City Public Schools are funded and am sharing questions I’ve endeavored to answer. As I learn, I’m sharing with the community in the hopes others will also learn and advocate. Where applicable I’ve provided citations and resources so that anyone […]

Property Revaluation Update: 202 out of 206 Homes on Neptune Ave in Greenville #JerseyCity were Over-Taxed.

I’ve got another Revaluation update, this one focused on Neptune Avenue which is an East/West street that stretches pretty much across Jersey City’s south Greenville neighborhood.  Similar to other Greenville Revaluation-related updates, this is a story of systemic overtaxation that is being fixed with Revaluation. First, some high level details about the data. Appraisal Systems’ […]

Country Village Revaluation Update: $3+ Million Estimated Tax Expense Reduction (and counting…)

March 18 2018.  Appraisal Systems released a new batch of assessments on March 16th – the same day Jersey City’s public school teachers went on strike.  So…this latest update wasn’t covered in the news.  It should be though; finally, Country Village homes are listed.  Per estimates released by Jersey City in December 2017, Country Village […]

Updated: Jersey City Abatements from 2016 User Friendly Budget. Mapped by Project Type & Ward.

If you are new to the topic of abatements, I recommend my tax abatement series here including my 2015 article,”Jersey City PILOTs Rob Funding from the School System.“ This post is a refinement of my previous “Mapping Jersey City Abatements By Project Type and Ward” post.  I wanted to update the data, and the map, to show […]

Quick Analysis: Tax Expense Change on the West Side, south of Lincoln Park

February 27, 2018.  Appraisal Systems released a new batch of assessments this morning and I was most curious about tax change in systemically over-taxed areas.  I was hoping streets in Country Village would be listed because, per estimates released by Jersey City in December 2017, Country Village is expected to see the largest dollar-for-dollar tax […]

JerseyCity Revaluation Update: Society Hill Highlighted

Updated: Feb 19, 2018.  Appraisal Systems today published on its website an updated assessments file with about 1,950 new properties added (note: I won’t be updating this page with every single new release from Appraisal Systems…but I have a property tax workshop tonight at Our Lady of Mercy Church and I wanted to be equipped […]

Street Safety – PS #3 Parent Concerns Survey (Responses)

In October 2017 I created a bi-lingual survey with my friend and fellow PS #3 parent, Catalina Aranguren. We shared it with the school community and asked for feedback.  This post summarizes the responses. Our goals with this survey are to: Understand initial feedback about street safety concerns. Synthesize the concerns into actionable feedback for […]

Jersey City 2017 Sales for Class “2” (1-4 Family) Properties, Mapped

This post is part of my effort to share information about Jersey City’s Property Revaluation.  I wrote a Revaluation series last year which you can read  here.   In a citywide revaluation, your new assessment should equal your market value.  When establishing market value of your home, one set of data that can be useful is […]

Am I Paying Too Much in Property Tax?

Figure out your ASSESSED value ASSESSED Value = Your home’s value according to the GOVERNMENT. Your assessed value is what the city thinks your property is worth for property taxation purposes. It is the basis on which your tax bill is computed each year: Your Annual Tax Expense = Assessed Value x Tax Rate Assessed […]

Why Property Revaluation is a Social Justice Imperative in Jersey City

Jersey City property taxes, as seen through state compliance data: Jersey City’s last citywide revaluation was in 1988. Jersey City’s 2017 equalization ratio is 23.66%. Jersey City’s 2017 coefficient of deviation is 35.66%. On this map: Green = under-taxed |  Red = over-taxed NJ property tax law is based on this foundational premise: assessed values are supposed […]

Who/What/When/Where/Why of Property Revaluation

WHO conducted Jersey City’s property revaluation? In 2016 Jersey City hired Appraisal Systems, Inc. for $4.4 million to conduct the revaluation. Here are some helpful links about the firm: ASI’s website page for Jersey City residents here. ASI’s generic powerpoint that explains the Revaluation process is here. This is an excellent overview of the general process. […]

Love, Hope, & Dignity: A Summit on Immigrant Justice, Advocacy, & Solidarity

On Saturday September 30th from 10am to 2pm St. Aedan’s – The Saint Peter’s University Church sponsored an event on immigration titled “Love, Hope, and Dignity: A Summit on Immigration Justice, Advocacy, and Solidarity”.  Our goals for the Summit included sharing information, helping provide information to the community, listening to those who are worried, and strengthening our […]

Jersey City Together Helped Homeowners Save $40,000+ via Tax Appeal Workshops

Jersey City Together Tax Appeal Workshop. In March 2017 I worked with a team of Jersey City Together leaders to provide a tax appeals workshop.  We invited homeowners to meet with us to determine if their homes were over-assessed which, in turn, helped us determine if they were over-taxed. It was a cooperative civic action involving […]

Fulop Era Abatements Approved from 2013 to 2016

I’m sharing a new map I created that pin-drops all abatements approved since Mayor Fulop and the current City Council took office*, i.e. since the summer of 2013.  I created the map after reading Terrence McDonald‘s recent article from the Jersey Journal titled “Has Steve Fulop Evolved on Tax Abatements?”  It’s a valid question and […]

JCPS Funding 201: How JCPS Spends Its Money…A High Level Primer

I detailed in my last post how the JCPS budget is funded by a mix of state, local, and federal tax dollars.  But how is that money then spent? That is the main focus of this post.  Governor Christie approved a budget this week that included $8.5 million in state aid cuts to Jersey City Public Schools […]

JCPS Funding 101: Why Possible State Aid Cuts = “Major Hardship”

I will be writing about this issue as it unfolds, it’s a big topic that taxpayers should understand.   This is a quick primer on why the Sweeney-Prieto proposal to cut $8.5 million in state aid from Jersey City Public Schools would, to use Superintendent Dr. Lyles term, cause a “major hardship” for the district. […]

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 the […]

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 context […]

Jersey City Revaluation: Interactive Map Now Available from ASI, Inc.

Jersey City is undergoing a multi-month Revaluation process and appraisal firm ASI, Inc. is currently assessing all properties throughout the city.  I wrote about the April 3rd Ward “A” revaluation presentation, hosted by ASI, Inc, and one promise from that meeting: that an interactive assessment map would be made available. Good news – that map is now available! […]

Jersey City Revaluation: Intro from ASI Inc, the firm doing the Revaluation

I attended the Ward “A” revaluation meeting on April 3rd and had a chance to listen to a representative from Appraisal Systems, Inc., the third-party appraisal firm hired by Jersey City to conduct the revaluation.  Mark Duda presented; he is an ASI executive and the designated ASI “project manager” for Jersey City’s revaluation. ASI, Inc. is one of […]

Fulop’s Spokesperson Wrong on Property Tax Appeals Logic

Steven Fulop’s press person, Jennifer Morrill, made an egregious error on the record this month when she characterized tax appeals as not being based on sales prices.  Tax appeals are, in fact, based explicitly on recent comparable sales prices. Ms. Morrill’s statement was in response to a story about a local resident, April Kuzas, who recently […]

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 friendly […]

An Interview with Heather Darcy Bhandari: The Artist’s Contract for Jersey City’s Mural Program

Jersey City’s “Monopoly Mural” on Newark Avenue serves as a lens into Jersey City’s mural program, a fusion of private art and public space.  The 33-square foot mural was the work of local artist Mr. Abillity.  Mr. Abillity began painting the mural in late May, completed it in June, but by mid-July, the mural was gone. […]

An Analysis of 2015 Jersey City Property Sales – by Ward

This is a guest post from Jersey City resident and mortgage industry professional Susan Kulakowski.  Susan reached out to me after reading my last post, “Property Revaluation 501: Mapping & Color Coding Jersey City Home Sales by Assessment-Sales Ratio.”  She analyzed the map’s underlying data and provided a ward-specific lens into the upcoming property revaluation. She offered […]

Property Revaluation 501: Mapping & Color Coding Jersey City Home Sales by Assessment-Sales Ratio

This post is part of an ongoing series about property revaluation in Jersey City.   I partnered with CivicJC to create an interactive map to help residents visualize 2015 property sales in Jersey City and their corresponding taxes. Recent property sales are informing because they are used as a proxy for market value when establishing the city’s annual equalization ratio. Click here to […]

Property Revaluation 401: Tax Appeal Math (Chapter 123 Law)

This is part of an ongoing series about property revaluation in Jersey City.  Note: this post presumes an understanding of the equalization ratio, which I previously wrote about in “Property Revaluation 101: the Equalization Ratio.”  With Jersey City officials recently announcing that they would finally move forward with a property revaluation, a common question has emerged: “is my home currently under-assessed, […]

Civic & Education Awesomeness in Jersey City: PS #5’s “Air Fresheners”

I’m taking my kids out of school early tomorrow so they can go into NYC and witness some stellar role models in action.   These role models are Inventors.  Technologists.  Scientists. Civic Pioneers.  They are the Air Fresheners of PS #5, and tomorrow they will be finalist presenters at the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest. The Air Fresheners are Ivonne, Nancy, […]

Property Revaluation 301: Estimating Your Post-Revaluation Tax Bill

This is part of an ongoing series about property revaluation in Jersey City. Please note, an update given new state tax data reported in 2017: the 2016 equalized tax rate is reported to be 1.86%.  This is the best predictor of what the new tax rate will be, post-Revaluation.  I’ve been asked by a few people: “How […]

Property Revaluation 201: Quantifying Tax Inequity (A Simple Example)

This is part of an ongoing series about property revaluation in Jersey City.  In my last post, I explained how Jersey City’s low equalization ratio was a cause for revaluation.  The reason: when a city’s equalization ratio is low, its market values have grown out of sync with its assessed values, and that opens the door to potential tax […]

Property Revaluation 101: the Equalization Ratio

This the first post in a series about property revaluation in Jersey City. Jersey City has been growing at a breakneck speed for the past fifteen years.  As a city grows, it is required to stop along the way and revalue its real estate.  This process is termed “revaluation.”  Revaluation is about ensuring that tax assessed values – […]

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 of […]

Mayor Fulop: Please Stop Politicizing Our Public Schools

I emailed this letter to Mayor Fulop on September 24th. Dear Mayor Fulop, After reading this article in today’s Jersey Journal, I’m asking you, as a parent of two children in the Jersey City Public School (JCPS) system: Please stop politicizing our public schools.   I was at the Jersey City Board of Education (BOE) meeting […]