Borough Council Meeting (05/09/2019)

Fact Checking:

“So effectively, out of the 566 municipalities, Woodlynne has the worst, the highest tax rate.”


Confirmed.

According to the NJ Division of Taxation, next to Winfield Twp, Woodlynne has the highest tax rate.
(https://www.state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/lpt/taxrate.shtml)

“And what this shows, out of the 32 school districts in Camden County, Woodlynne has the sixth lowest cost per student to educate. So if you look at this, you’re blaming the schools for taxes… Well, again it gets back to, in terms of your facts, your facts don’t jive with these, I guess, alternate facts.”


Confirmed, with a caveat.

According to the NJ Department of Education, Woodlynne spends $17,451 per student, which is definitely on the lower end of the scale. (https://www.nj.gov/cgi-bin/education/csg/18/csg.pl?string=dist_code5900&maxhits=650) However, these figures do not indicate that Woodlynne students are not being bussed back and forth to school. The state of New Jersey, for the 2018-2019 school year, has determined the maximum allowed expenditure for bussing students to be $1,000. (https://www.nj.gov/education/genfo/faq/faq_transportation.shtml) That extra $1,000 per student would move Woodlynne down the list from 6th to 16th, which while not the best, is still solidly in the middle-ground. Further, this discussion was never about how much the school spends, but rather about how much it takes, and it cannot be disputed that the single largest claim on our taxes is the school.

“The point is… our tax rates are through the roof. It’s not the school’s fault.”


Well… yes and no.

No one has said that it is the school’s fault that our tax rates are so high, but to say that they don’t have a share of that is irresponsible. If you take a look at your tax bill, on the right-hand side, near the top, you’ll find a list of all of the places that your taxes go. This breakdown provides the following information (after you do the division to determine the percentages):
Borough: 41.6%
School : 46.4%
County : 12%
Again, although no one is actually saying that the school is to blame for the tax rate, it is taking the largest piece of the pie.

Below is the Agenda for this meeting:

7 Comments

  1. Bob,
    I am really glad you took the time to fact check the meeting which validated what I said at the meeting.

    My question to you is did you also fact check the Mayor’s assertion that the boro has created redevelopment plans/areas?

    1. It confirmed what you stated regarding Woodlynne being at the top of the list when it came to the highest tax rates. While it *did* confirm that your second set of figures was accurate, it also pointed out that it was irrelevant to the discussion. Unless there is an error on my tax bill, it clearly indicates that the school is getting the largest single piece of the taxes collected, meaning that the school is at least as responsible as Council for how much is being collected,

      As for your question, I was unable to verify that information within the 48 hours that we had originally promised to have these videos up. With the Borough Hall being closed on Fridays, and through the weekend, I won’t be able to get in to make the necessary OPRA requests until Tuesday. I will, of course, update the original post with my findings, as well as make an announcement to the Facebook group to make everyone aware of the update.

      1. Robert,

        I attempted to post a long comment on this website but it was either received and not published or not received. I posted the comment on the Woodlynne Facebook page. I believe you are doing the right thing by posting videos and fact checking the information presented at the public meeting. I would appreciate it if you fact check everyone – if we can’t agree on the facts, how can we agree on solutions to the problems plaguing Woodlynne.

        Jeff

  2. I left a comment early which I don’t see posted yet so I will repost it here with additional thoughts.

    I thank you for taking the time to verify the facts I presented at the meeting which validated what I presented to the Mayor and Council.

    Regarding your point on Woodlynne’s cost per pupil … it is flawed to discount that Woodlynne doesn’t bus their students. I am sure some of the other districts have none or minimal busing too. Some districts may have advantages such as boosters who may have helped fund say solar panels or recreation which reduces the districts annual cost. Or perhaps there is an active PTA which may provide volunteers and supplies to a district. I am sure there are some districts where the municipality provides things like snow removal for efficiency reasons which would be a benefit to the schools. Further, if you are going to count something which is in Woodlynne’s favor against the schools, then you should also take into account the extra costs associated with the higher percentage of ESL children Woodlynne has versus some/all of the districts. The state publishes the comparative guide to education spending to help taxpayers evaluate how their district is doing on spending on a per pupil basis. Any cherry picking to adjust the comparison, which is what you did, is invalid.

    Your last “fact check” does not represent the point I was continually making. I stated numerous times that the property values are the issue creating the high tax rates. If you literally cut the school budget in half, we would still have one of the highest tax rates in the state. We need to address the run down housing and poor lifestyle and only then will the property values stabilize and be able to start increasing.

    As I stated I appreciate your desire to make sure the facts discussed at the meeting. That said can you please confirm you also checked the following “facts” presented by the Council. If you didn’t check these items yet please let us all know what you find:

    1. At time 45:26 Councilman Chukwueke said he got a letter saying his assessment value increased. The assessed values for every property is posted online and can be easily checked.

    2. At time 52:45 the Mayor asserted that the Boro has created redevelopment areas at two locations. Is this a true statement?

    3. At time 56:35 the Mayor asserted that the property values are going up in the Boro. There are records on what is sold on Zillow or the county records. Your thoughts on the accuracy of this statement by the Mayor would be appreciated.

    Verifying the accuracy of the statements being made is critical right now as we are trying to make positive change for Woodlynne.

    Jeff

    1. * I am by no means “stifling debate”, but neither am I engaging in it. Comments on my site are moderated, and as the vast majority of them are spam, I am not in the habit of living on the site on the chance that a valid comment comes in. Your first comment was approved, and responded to, well before you posted the second.

      * I was “cherry-picking” nothing. I merely offered that up as an example to show that that particular piece of data was flawed, in that it does not take everything into account. The more important thing to point out here, once again, is that it’s completely irrelevant to the discussion. Council has nothing to do with how the School Board spends its money. The point was that the single largest piece of our taxes is going to the school.

      * I never suggested cutting funding to the school. That would be stupid. A failed school is terrible for property values.

      * I am a private citizen that is volunteering a free service to the residents of this Borough. I already have a full-time job, and a family to take care of, so I will not spend more time doing this than I can.

      * I am not your personal fact-checker. I questioned what you brought to the meeting because I’ve never seen or heard from you before, and you’ve aligned yourself with Clyde Cook, who has established a pattern of lying to suit his purposes, as well as attempting to defame anyone that calls him on it. Then, you show up to the last Council meeting before the primary, with an obvious agenda, and you seized the first opportunity to use misleading data in order to cast aspersions. “A man is known by the company he keeps”, and if that’s true, then I’m afraid that it doesn’t say much good about you.

  3. Late to the party, I know.

    Blaming the school for high taxes is not appropriate. The school does not wildly spend and waste money causing an inflated tax rate. They should not be vilified for the percentage of the total tax burden they represent. The issue is that Woodlynne has no corporate tax base to back off the resident’s tax burden. It is required, by law, for that tax burden to be paid and the only way that can be paid is by placing the tax burden on to the resident. This is why the school is a large portion of the tax requirement.

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