Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable explained to members of the Assembly Budget Committee during a morning meeting that the combination of capping property tax levy hikes and changing public employee pension and health benefits contributions has slowed the growth in average property tax bills to less than two percent after a decade that saw a combined 70 percent growth in average bills.
He also pressed lawmakers to make further changes to ease the property tax burden, including a ban on payouts to public employees for unused sick days.
“The current accumulated sick and vacation payout liability for municipalities statewide is almost $900 million,” he said.
But Democrats on the panel took issue with Constable's statement on property taxes, saying bills continue to rise even as Christie has cut the Homestead relief program, which once funded rebate checks averaging $1,000 but now pays for direct credits of $518 and $409.
Earlier this week the website NJSpotlight published a report indicating the net increase in property taxes during Christie's first three years in office has been nearly 19 percent.
"It seems those comments are structured in a vacuum away from the property tax bill a person is actually paying," said Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester. "The bottom line tax bill, the net amount that residents are forced to pay is growing much larger."