Gottheimer Works with Towns to Lower Property Taxes

May 20, 2019
Press

Since 2016, Federal Tax Dollars Clawed Back to NJ-5 Up 57%, Response to Moocher States

 Today, May 20, 2019, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) announced that, since 2016, New Jersey’s Fifth District has clawed back 57% more federal tax dollars from Washington. Through Gottheimer’s work with mayors, councils, first responders, and nonprofits, NJ-5 has realized a far better ROI on the tax dollars North Jersey residents sends to Washington every year. This year alone, that means $392 per household — a 35% increase from 2017 to 2018.

Standing with local elected officials and law enforcement in Oradell, in front of equipment acquired through federal grants, Gottheimer highlighted town successes across Bergen, Sussex, Passaic, and Warren Counties, particularly with the Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) excess equipment program, the GSA program, and FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG).

The Fifth District has clawed back 384% more LESO grants since 2016, totaling a $3.77 million increase since 2016 – which is savings to our tax payers.

Through the LESO excess equipment program, towns including Oradell and Franklin Borough have received bucket trucks, Humvees, forklifts, pickup trucks, generators, and security surveillance systems. Gottheimer also noted that 27 new towns in the Fifth district are now enrolled and are competing for federal resources through the LESO program since 2016. 

Through the AFG program, boroughs like New Milford will be receiving a new fire truck and Ringwood has received more than $189,000 in personal protective equipment for its fire departments. The Fifth District has clawed back 861% more AFG grants since 2016, totaling over $1.7 million for first responders and saved in local government budgets.

“I’m very pleased to announce that, since 2016, we are up more than 57% percent in what we’ve clawed back in our federal tax dollars to New Jersey’s Fifth District– a 35% increase from last year,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “Thanks to utilizing LESO, AFG, nonprofit security, and other key grants in ways we haven’t in decades, we’re working together to lower the property tax burden on our residents.”

Gottheimer’s Return on Investment team has visited all 79 towns in the Fifth District to raise awareness of the availability of federal grant dollars, convened 10 Mayor Summits to train local leaders on how to apply for grants, hosted 12 grant workshops, and sent more than 1,500 letters and scores of emails to local leaders.

Above: Gottheimer tours equipment acquired by Fifth District towns and counties through federal grants.

 

Gottheimer’s Return on Investment Report can be found here.

 

Video of the announcement can be found here.

 

Gottheimer’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are below.

Thank you, Mayor Didio, Oradell Council President Schoenberg, and Councilman Kelly for welcoming us to Oradell this morning and for your excellent leadership. We’ll get to all of this here in a bit, but I must commend you for your work in helping claw back so many of our federal dollars back to Oradell and helping save your taxpayers money. Oradell has been active in all three of the federal grants programs we’re here to talk about today, and you’ve won everything from generators and trucks to trailers and tractors.

I’m very glad to be with all of you here today as we highlight the incredible returns that we’re able to accomplish for our counties and communities here in North Jersey. 

It’s no secret: it is incredibly expensive to live here in New Jersey.  Our taxes, at every level, federal, state, local, and property, are simply too high. That’s why I’ve been working in Washington to fully reinstate SALT, without raising individual rates, and fighting to change the transportation formulas that hose us and allow our towns to utilize the charitable tax deduction.   It’s also why, along with so many of our mayors, councils, and first responders, including the ones here today, I’ve been working overtime to claw back more of our federal tax dollars back to Jersey to help get our local and property taxes down.  

Today, I’m here to review our progress on our return on investment – how we’ve lowered the property tax burden on our residents by clawing back more of our federal tax dollars to Jersey.  Working together, utilizing grant programs in a way we haven’t in decades, I’m very pleased to announce, in a status report released this morning, that, since 2016, we are up more than 57% percent in what we’ve clawed back to New Jersey’s Fifth District – parts of Bergen, Sussex, Warren, and Passaic Counties. Since last year alone, we’re up more than 35% percent, thanks to a massive rise in LESO, AFG, nonprofit security, and other key grants. By clawing back more, we’ve lifted significant costs off of our town budgets and helped provide tax relief to our residents.

How have we done it? By working together to apply for, and advocate for, grants for everything from fire trucks to generators to desks, instead of letting too many of those dollars to go to the Moocher States.

Here’s the unfortunate reality, and I discovered this when I first ran for Congress: Historically, here in northern New Jersey, we had only received thirty-three cents back for every dollar we sent to Washington, compared to states like West Virginia and Mississippi, which receive $4.23 and $4.38, respectively, back for every tax dollar.  Forty-four percent of Louisiana’s state revenue comes from federal funds, compared to only 27% in our state. So, Louisiana expects states like ours — instead of their local taxes — to cover nearly half of their costs. They are the poster child for what I call the “Moocher States.”  By the way, there is a Moocher Map in the report you’ve all received here or that will be posted online.

In short, New Jersey, and several states in the northeast and west coast, have been footing the bill for decades now – for the roads, bridges, cops, and firefighters in the Moocher States – while our towns and taxpayers have been expected to carry New Jersey’s load largely on their own. Historically, that’s meant higher property tax bills here – and lower taxes in the Moocher States.

And we’ve been sending those dollars this despite the fact that our own roads are the eighth worst in the country, the Gateway Tunnel keeps getting put off by the administration, and a third of our bridges are considered unsafe. 

Then, of course, the Tax Hike Bill was jammed through — adding insult to injury — and it gutted the State and Local Tax Deduction, or SALT, in effect, raising taxes on our District – making it even more expensive to live here.

As New Jersey taxpayers got hit with double taxation, who got yet another tax benefit? You guessed it — the Moocher States.  It’s a joke. I’m sick and tired of these other Moocher States treating New Jersey like their piggy bank — we’re paying everyone else’s tab for their roads, bridges, and cops, while our taxes keep going up.

Since I’ve been in Congress, representing North Jersey, I’ve set out to understand what we could do to reverse this overall trend. Here’s what I found: While there are certain factors out of our control, there were many things that we could be doing, that North Jersey simply had not been doing, to claw back more of our federal tax dollars to our District. At the core of the problem was something my dad always taught me: if you don’t ask you don’t get.

So, we put together a plan to start asking. We hired someone in the office – a Director on Return on Investment — whose core responsibility is to find every single federal grant dollar that our communities qualify for, and then, to work closely with our mayors, councils, first responders, and nonprofits to help them apply for the grants. 

I think you’ve all met Lauren. She’s terrific! It’s a complicated process; you often need to really dig around to find that agriculture grant or support to fight homegrown terrorists.

Since 2017, we’ve held ten Mayor’s Summits — most recently at Bergen County College in February — and 12 grant workshops and shipped more than 1,500 letters and scores of emails — making sure that towns know about approaching deadlines and the best practices in applying for federal grants. Several mayors have even come to Washington to meet with the grant-making departments to help advocate for their communities.  I’ve found that there’s nothing partisan about this – getting our tax dollars back home is not a Democrat or Republican issue – it’s purely what’s good for Jersey.

The good news: Together, we’ve identified, applied for, and fought for more grant opportunities to keep more dollars where they belong – back here, in the pockets of New Jersey residents.  And we’ve made real progress.

As I mentioned, working together, we’ve had a 57% increase in the federal tax dollars clawed back to the Fifth District since 2016. Fifty-seven percent over what we’ve historically received! That’s an average of $392 for every household in the Fifth District. That means dollars straight to us, here, and dollars away from the Moocher States to help firefighters put out a blaze and law enforcement fight crime and terror and protect the children in our schools. That’s 57% more federal tax dollars clawed back for storm cleanup, generators and trucks for storms, boats for floods, repairs, and emergency management.

This has been a true team effort. These are huge wins and we’re going to make sure these numbers keep on growing. We’re unwinding years of inaction — so it won’t happened overnight – but, together, we are making remarkably strong progress.

Here are some highlights:

There are actually a few people — who we’ve worked with closely — who couldn’t be here this morning. Franklin Borough is actually picking up $230,000 worth of equipment they clawed back through the grant programs right this very moment – including a bucket truck, a Humvee, a floor washer, and a forklift.

Franklin Borough was able to carry out one of the easiest steps that towns can take to claw back their taxpayer dollars – and that’s by signing up for the LESO or Law Enforcement Support Office excess equipment program. LESO facilitates the transfer of Department of Defense property, that is sitting idly and might otherwise be destroyed, to law enforcement agencies across the United States. A similar program with the Government Services Administration transfers surplus equipment from other branches of the government to local public works departments. So, that’s how Franklin Borough is getting all of that equipment today.

This equipment, if not recouped by North Jersey, will either go to other states taking advantage of the program, or be destroyed. We have already paid for this equipment out of our federal taxes and it’s our obligation to fight to get what’s available and necessary here to our state.

The excess equipment program includes items like flashlights and first aid kits for our cops, wagons for our SWAT Teams, and electrical generators for emergency responders and families who have lost power during major storms. It’s also basic supplies like copiers and computers, that are essential to running a police station. All in all, the equipment helps us focus more of our town budgets on resources to help cops on the street and to keep our families safe from crime and ISIS-inspired, lone wolf terrorism. Radios and video monitoring equipment that boroughs like Bogota received ensure that if there’s ever an emergency threat in their schools, our first responders will know what’s going on, immediately.

Working with my office, twenty-seven new towns have now enrolled in the LESO programs – to claw back more of those federal dollars and provide some relief to their property tax budges. That’s a big deal. Twenty-seven new towns!

Through the LESO, across the Fifth District, overall, we’ve received $3.77 million more than our past returns from the excess law enforcement equipment program – that’s a 384% jump since 2016. That’s $3.77 million saved in local government budgets throughout New Jersey’s Fifth – which is savings to our taxpayers. And that means lower taxes for our residents because these items don’t have to come out of the town budget.

Today, of course, we’re here in Oradell, where Mayor Didio and her team, thanks to their outstanding initiative, have clawed back more than $956,000 since 2017 – in just their first two years enrolled in the LESO program. As you can see, they’ve been able to receive a mobile command center trailer, fifteen generators, a security surveillance system, fifty first aid kids, forty-three radios, and these two pickup trucks, Humvee, and even a boat, here right behind me. These are all items that the borough was going to have to pay for out of its budgets. Instead, it clawed back those dollars from the federal government, and helped save their taxpayers on their property tax bills.

Upper Saddle River, under Mayor Minichetti – who’s here with us today, has clawed back more than $120,000 through the LESO program. I know Mayor Minichetti and Upper Saddle River are happy to have that savings back in their budget

Last year, I was proud to announce that Belvidere’s Mayor Kennedy, who has been a real leader in saving taxpayers’ money, received LESO and GSA equipment valued at $857 for every Belvidere family. Chief Matt Scott, of Belvidere PD, has been actively helping other Police Chiefs across the District get the most out of this program.

And we have some newcomers to the programs — Closter and Hillsdale – the mayor who is here today — they clawed back their first sets of LESO equipment this year. We now have 27 new towns participating in LESO now – since 2016 – which is incredible for the people of North Jersey.

Hackensack, Closter, Hillsdale, Lodi, Emerson, Maywood, Westwood, Allendale, Bergenfield, Dumont, New Milford, Haworth are just a few towns that have all seen tremendous success with LESO, and I’m honored to have been able to work with so many of their mayors.

Specifically, the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, who is represented here this morning, fought for $214,000 this year for their first responders. We’re now even safer thanks to their leadership.

But, we still have a long way to go to fully leverage the LESO and GSA programs. While Belvidere, Franklin Borough, and Vernon mayors are on board, there’s more to do in Sussex and Warren. I’ll continue to work with the mayors, councils and first responders in Sussex and Warren Counties to see what more we can do together.

And I’m also looking forward to working with the leadership in places like Fair Lawn, Glen Rock, and Oakland — where they’ve now passed the resolution to be a part of the LESO program — to ensure they’re able to start clawing back new equipment that they can put to use and save their taxpayers money.

Overall, with 323 computers, 49 generators, 470 first-aid kits, 33 radios, 27 high-value vehicles, and nearly $150,000 in bulletproof vests delivered to our communities, through the LESO program, without hitting the property tax line.

We’ve also seen successes in more competitive grant programs like the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program — or AFG.

FEMA’s AFG award helps firehouses across the United States to upgrade or purchase new equipment, vehicles, workplace trainings, and other fire prevention activities, and the COPS program helps pay 75 percent for the first three years of a new police officer’s salary. 

Thanks to Demarest, Lodi, Hillsdale, Hackensack, Teaneck, Ringwood, West Milford, and Belvidere, I am proud to announce that we have increased our return of life-saving equipment here to the district through the AFG program by 861%. That’s more than $1.7 million back to the Fifth District.

We have also had huge wins in communities like New Milford, where they’re getting a new fire truck worth $750,000 from an AFG grant. In Ringwood, they’ve clawed back more than $189,000 for personal protective equipment for their fire departments. 

In Passaic County, West Milford’s Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 received $160,000 for protective gear. I know that last year Chief Poplaski was thrilled to have what he called a “first sign of direct federal investment in our fire department in years.” West Milford has done great work getting this done and I’m thrilled to see that they clawed back to cut taxes there.

Also, since my time in Congress, Hackensack has had the highest performance. In fact, in 2018, they were able to receive more than $86,000 just in personal protective equipment, to help enhance operations and safety of those who protect their communities. 

I’m so glad that so many of our North Jersey governments are taking advantage of the AFG program to help purchase new equipment that our communities truly benefit from – equipment used by our brave first responders to help protect our families.

I’m committed to working harder every year, to continue to identify and fight for even more grants for the Fifth — through nonprofit security grants, Head Start, agriculture, and other programs — to boost our return on investment for New Jersey. At the same time, I’m committed to rooting out all wasteful government spending and to do everything possible to cut our taxes.

Thank you to everyone here for coming out, for your public service, and for supporting your towns. We must continue to work together to cut taxes and stop the Moocher States from stealing our wallets.

Thank you and God bless you and God bless the United States of America.

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