Keeping Teaneck affordable means better leadership
To the editor:
Between 2001-10, Teaneck property taxes increased 58.8 percent compared to an increase in the CPI of 26.6 percent, a measure of inflation experienced by consumers in their day-to-day living expenses. In other words, the Teaneck property tax growth rate was more than double (122 percent) the U.S. inflation rate. During this period, Teaneck's overall population (39,650), as well as its student population (4,310) remained nearly constant.
Details are provided for Teaneck and the Consumer Price Index on a year-by-year basis (last five years): 2006: Property taxes + 6.3 percent vs. CPI + 3.2 percent; 2007: Property taxes + 7.8 percent vs. CPI + 2.8 percent; 2008: Property taxes + 2.5percent vs. CPI + 3.8 percent; 2009: Property taxes + 4.0 percent vs. CPI -0.4 percent; 2010: Property taxes + 2.3 percent vs. CPI + 1.6 percent.
From an analytical perspective, Teaneck residents should compare the rate of rise in property taxes to the CPI for evidence of cost control. The difference is compounded over time. In aggregate, there is no evidence of cost controls or productivity savings, though a few isolated programs may have generated either/or both.
What are we paying for? Where is the value of our investment? Levels of academic achievement have not improved in our schools. Neither has the responsiveness our municipality. Teaneck already spends 10 percent of its municipal budget for Police and Fire pensions — a figure that has increased 617 percent since 2005. We don't even have garbage pick-up!
Contract reform is needed. Police earn $100,000 within six years of being hired. Our teachers are the third highest paid in New Jersey. At the same time, costly grievance procedures applying to all union employees, combined with disincentives for productivity enhancement limits the ability of management to make fundamental or even incremental changes on a timely basis.
We also don't need to spend $3.5 million for renovation of the police station (via a debt offering). Build now, pay later for what? We need better service, not a better building.
Bottom line: The local economy remains weak. People are frustrated by Congressional inertia. Foreclosures are happening even within Teaneck. A clarion call for "No More Taxes" and "shared sacrifice" by the unions exists. Change won't happen overnight. Strategic leadership is required.
If this letter writer in our local Teaneck Suburbanite paper is correct, our Teaneck taxes have been skyrocketing out of control the past few years. We need to get them under control.