‘Reval’ movement is the wrong way to go

Dear Editor:
A 47 percent tax increase is a crime. Our neighbors who have lived in Hoboken for 20+ years didn’t commit it. Presently, some residents are pushing for a citywide property tax reval in an effort to get relief for themselves. This “relief” would benefit mainly those who purchased recently and harm many who have lived in Hoboken a long time. Such a scheme will do nothing to reduce the bloated budget.
No housing bubble compares with the one that inflated from 1998-2006, when housing prices increased nationwide by an unprecedented 8 percent a year. Hoboken’s yearly increase dwarfed that. This speculative real estate bubble was fueled by a foolish notion that values would always increase. These absurd purchase prices would be the basis for a reval. Had housing prices increased at a historic rate, a reval wouldn’t force longtime residents out, but nowadays, it would. Those favoring immediate reval argue that it’s long overdue and longtime residents aren’t paying their “fair share.” They complain that they will have to move if a reval isn’t done. I marvel at this self-centeredness. Is being forced out unacceptable for only some of us? Clearly, these repeated calls for reval fragment our community in ways that guarantee disappointment with the outcome of the next mayoral election.
I’m delighted to see residents becoming active. I’m disappointed that some, who previously never voted in municipal elections, now champion divisiveness. I’m appalled at complaints that longtime residents are “not paying their fair share,” even though the long-timers got a 47 percent property tax increase, too. Repeatedly hearing this talking point, I wonder how much of someone else’s foolish real estate purchase represents my fair share. Surely they knew what the taxes were when they bought. Having never considered anyone else’s mortgage, salary or net worth any of my business, I find it disheartening that anyone would protest about how much they pay for new, often luxury, condos compared to others.
Does budget and political reform mean beggaring your neighbors? Instead of focusing on politicians and administrators who sold out our town with overdevelopment, PILOTs, and patronage, anger is aimed at long timers perceived as “having a better deal” or “getting a free ride” and, while these remarks may target city corruption, it spills over onto anyone who has lived here longer.
Those who demand a reval remind us that it’s “the law”, even though unfair laws have been created to benefit insiders. “The law” allows creation of redevelopment zones, exempt from taxes; pushed onto the rest of us. Is this law fair?
There is compelling public purpose to focus on budget reduction without further calls for reval. I’m not alone in my belief that a reval in today’s economy will empty out remaining small businesses leaving only chain stores, banks and nail salons. It will decimate the community, force more properties onto the market and uproot longtime residents committed to this community who would normally rejoice to find others who want to reform local government. As long as divisiveness rules, we’ll never have responsible elected officials governing on behalf of everyone, not just the well connected, nor just the affluent, but all of us.
Cheryl Fallick

© 2000, Newspaper Media Group