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I have been writing Civic Parent in Jersey City for nearly 10 years, since November 2013, soon after the "Journal Squared" pilot was approved. I started Civic Parent because I cared about local public schools and my community, did not understand local finance related to the public schools, had concerns around that financing, and wanted...

How does your town’s property tax allocation compare to the state average?

I’ve often received the question: how does our town’s property tax compare to the state average? Using the most recently available 2021 statewide data (from the Division of Local Government Services here), I put that visual together below. When viewing the visual, it’s important to note: This visual shows property tax for 3 local governments...Continue reading

Help build civic “people power” for kids in Jersey City to have water fountains in every public school

I recently spoke after mass at my church, St. Aedan’s, about the fact that most of Jersey City’s public schools lack working water fountains in all the schools. The result, I shared, was that kids often go through the school day thirsty; they are distracted from academics due to thirst, they suffer headaches due to thirst,...Continue reading

Jersey City’s 2022 Municipal Budget: Focus on Revenues & Increasing City Tax Levy

In this post I’m using 2 public datasets: A: Jersey City’s 2022 Municipal Budget (Introduced) with proposed 2022 revenue and expense, located on the city website here. B: Jersey City’s 2015-2021 Municipal Budget summaries compiled in NJ’s User Friendly Budget Database (Excel file downloadable here). On June 15th, Jersey City released introduced its 2022 budget....Continue reading

Understanding Montclair’s Municipal Budget: A Webinar & Teaching to Empower Taxpayers to “Follow the Public Money”

On January 26th, 2022 I joined Montclair Councilor-at-large Peter Yacobellis for a zoom webinar about the Montclair municipal (aka town) budget. My portion of the webinar was a teaching about how to engage the public budget file, which is large, complex, but ultimately a primary source for understanding how the local government both collects and...Continue reading

Accountability Check: a look back at mental health services included in the FY2021-22 Jersey City Public Schools Budget

Jersey City's FY2021-22 public schools budget included concrete, promised investments in mental health services for our city's students. In this post I want to reopen the budget document that was approved last May and revisit some of that promised investment.  A budget can inform future investment but it can, and should, also be used as...Continue reading

The “User Friendly Budget,” part 7: What is the mix of residential vs. business property in my town? (UFB-5)

This is an update to my “User Friendly Budget” series with a focus on Montclair.  Your town’s user friendly budget must be posted on your town’s website (per state law here). The 5th page of the user friendly budget (“UFB-5”) provides a detailed view of your town’s tax base.  This is a very informing lens...Continue reading

Outgoing 2021 Jersey City Board of Education misses mark on showing budgeted investment for mental health services for students; new BOE should aim higher

On Thursday, December 16th, the Board of Education held its final regular meeting of the 2021 calendar year and while many speakers had signed up to speak about mental health services in our schools, and many also sent emails (including those sent from this call to action), the Board of Education did not address the...Continue reading

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