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The Boss

By David Dayton McKean
This Web version, edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

During the years that the taxes and the debt of Jersey City have been going up, the debts and taxes of Hudson County, controlled by the same political organization, have also risen. The total amount collected for county purposes was $3,264,272 in 1917; $8,698,861 in 1927; $9,663,711 in 1937; and $11,934,437 in 1940. About half of this tax burden falls upon the taxpayers of Jersey City ($6,763,126 in 1940), since Jersey City has about 52 per cent of the total of the county's assessed valuations. The tax rate for the county, like that for the city, shows no signs of leveling off; on the contrary, new highs are attained every year. The latest comparative per capita statistics (1938) show Hudson County as highest among the urban counties of New Jersey, $15.68, followed by Union, $11.76, Essex, $10.80, Passaic, $10.15. The adjacent county of Bergen, not controlled by the Hague organization, had a per capita cost of $8.94. It costs more, not only per capita but as a total, to govern Hudson County with 651,000 people than Essex County with 950,000, and it has done so every year since 1921; although there are a number of reasons for the difference, an important one is that Essex County has nothing so costly to maintain as the Jersey City Medical Center. Another reason is the difference in payrolls; it takes 1819 people to govern Essex, but 2598 to govern Hudson. Essex County has nineteen employees for each 10,000 population; Hudson has thirty-nine. The payroll in Essex is approximately two millions of dollars a year under that in Hudson.

Hudson County has some big taxpayers, such as the American Can Company, Colgate-Palmolive-Peet, and the Lorillard Tobacco Company, but the one largest taxpayer is the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. It has become the single largest taxpayer as a result of the collapse of Hudson County banks. On July 24, 1939, a statement, rather general in terms, was issued by the corporation announcing that it was the biggest property owner and taxpayer in the county. At that time it owned some 1200 properties, seventy per cent of which were in Jersey City on which the taxes amounted to $600,000 a year. In addition to these it had mortgages on another 1200 properties.


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