John Donnadio Talks NJ Taxes and Outward Migration of Residents
John Donnadio, Executive Director of the New Jersey Association of Counties, explains why New Jersey’s taxes are some of the highest in the nation, and what needs to change to stop the outward migration of residents.
"State of Affairs welcomes John Donnadio, who is Executive Director, New Jersey Association of Counties. John, the organization does what? We are an advocate for all 21 counties in the state of New Jersey. Okay so you have 21 counties in the state. We got 565 municipalities. That means mayors, councils, and everything else. You got 600 school districts, only 586 of them are operational. Right? That means you got your own superintendent. Everybody's got their own. It's a home rule state? Right. I want my own? Right. Some states across this country regionalize and have county government do it. Why is it different in New Jersey? That's correct. It's the way New Jersey evolved. And you're correct. There 47 other states across the country that have strong forms of county government. They have county schools, they have county police departments. And guess what? Their property tax bills are half of what ours are here in the state of New Jersey. Is there a correlation between...? By the way, it's so interesting, back in the day, my former mentor, the late, great Speaker of the House, Alan Karcher, wrote a book... Correct. ...called Municipal Madness. He said it is madness that everyone has their own municipality. Right. Everyone has their own everything. Little tiny towns. He goes, "Why do you think your property taxes are so high?" Mm hmm. That was over 20 years ago. Right. Why didn't we get the memo? Right. I think we did get the memo, and I think it... we're seeing a slow evolution to county governments providing more traditional municipal services. For example? 911 dispatch, animal control services, public health services, delivery of our health and human service programs, Meals on Wheels, these are services that municipalities, because they're having a hard time making ends meet, are now looking to county government to deliver these services more effectively. Talk about if someone says, "Wait a minute? It's so ironic..." sorry for interrupting. If some people say, you're saying let's have county government do more. There are some who say, "Why do we even need county government?" You say? Right. I think they're misinformed. Again, I think they're really misinformed. I mean, county governments are the only regional form of government in the state of New Jersey that are run effectively, efficiently, 11 of the county governments are Triple A bond rating, and again, if we look at the three other states across the country that don't have strong forms of county government, they join New Jersey in the top five with the highest property taxes in the nation. So I think they're misinformed. I think we've got to look at county government as an effective resource, an effective mechanism. What's the resistance? What's the resistance..."