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1921: Jersey City Under Commission Government
A Book of Achievement

The Tax Rate

This Web version:
COPYRIGHT 2003, GET NJ

HE tax rate is popularly supposed to measure the efficiency of municipal government. The public officials, however, in the levying of taxes are largely handicapped by conditions over which they have no control.

The administration of the Tax Department under Commission Government under the direction of the late George F. Brensinger and his successor, the present Commissioner, James F. Gannon, has accomplished results which compare favorably with any other municipality in the country.

Salary Increases.

The administration has been confronted with difficulties which have to be met and which should be considered in estimating the work of this branch of the government. A n increase in the salaries of the Police and Fire Department was voted by the people at an election under the State law. It affected at least one thousand officers and resulted in an increase of over a million dollars. A similar increase, though not mandatory, was made necessary by the increasing cost of living in reference to 1,200 school teachers, whose salaries were increased a million dollars.

Lost Revenue.

The loss of revenue from the liquor license tax due to prohibition was $400,000. Here are items aggregating $2,400,000 in the year's budget, out of a total budget of $12,000,000, over which the Commissioners either had no direct control or were forced in the case of the school teachers by the rapidly increasing cost of living to make a corresponding increase in salaries.

When to this virtually mandatory action is added the handicap which to railroad taxation, as explained in another article, and from which all other municipalities are free, the achievements of this administration in the field of taxation are truly re markable.

That this Department has been efficiently managed is shown by a comparison of the tax rate of our city with other municipalities in the State, as graphically shown by the following table

Tax Rate Per $1,000 Valuation.
Municipality1919.1920.
Jersey City 32.54 30.97
Passaic 25.20 31.50
Little Falls 26.00 34.80
Trenton 27.60 34.90
Long Branch 32.20 35.20
Somerville 27.70 36.40
Orange 31.90 37.40
Newark 34.00 37.50
Morristown 34.80 37.50
Asbury Park 36.10 38.20
Ridgewood 33.90 39.40
Atlantic Highlands 33.40 39.50
City of Salem, Salem County 25.90 40.40
Newton, Sussex County 32.92 40.57
New Brunswick 31.40 41.00
Red Bank 35.90 41.30
Point Pleasant, Ocean County 34.47 42.38
Perth Amboy 33.60 43.00
Flemington 33.60 43.60
Bound Brook 31.60 45.60
Madison 33.80 46.90
Clayton Borough, Gloucester County 28.20 47.70
Hackensack 35.00 49.00

Remarkable Tax Showing.

These samples are fairly representative of the tax conditions throughout the State. There are only a very few municipalities which have succeeded in reducing the tax rate in 1920 below that of 1919. In the great majority of municipalities the tax rate was very substantially increased.

This remarkable showing on the part of the government of Jersey City is due in large part to the policy of the city in raising taxes upon the great corporations which enjoy special priviledges here as shown below:

In a general way the increase of assessments during Commission Government is substantially $75,000,000, of which one-half represents increases on the property of the railroads, the Public Service Corporation and the Standard Oil, about $6,000,000 on apartment buildings and $25,000,000 on miscellaneous manufactures.

The major part of this increase in assessments has been in the last three years and has been made in spite of the fact that there have been no new buildings put up in that time. It should be noted that this year there has been no general increase in assessments on ordinary property in this city, whereas in Newark there has been a general flat increase on the assessments of all property. Notwithstanding this fact, the tax rate this year will be reduced from the figure of $30.97 last year to $29.16.

Financial Condition.

The financial condition of the city generally is extremely satisfactory. The sinking fund has over $10,000,000 in cash or convertible securities to meet bond issues as they mature, and contains a surplus of nearly 2,000,000 more than is required by law.

The credit for this remarkable showing is largely due to the indefatigable and able work of the late Commissioner Brensinger and his successor, the present Commissioner, James F. Gannon, in increasng assessments upon the Public Service and other great corporations, most of which have been secured only after long drawn out and repeated litigations.

Increased Assessments.
  Assessment, 1913. Assessment, 1921. Increase.
Third class railroad $12,000,000 $49,000,000 $37,000,000
Standard Oil Co 1,500,000 12,000,000 10,500.000
Public Service 3,000,000 19,000,000 15,000,000
Hudson & Manhattan 1,500,000 2,200,000 700,000
Second class railroad 49,600,000 68.600,000 19,000,000
Swift & Co 480,000 1,700,000 1,220,000

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