The City of Trenton already had relatively high taxes per $100 of a property's assessed value prior to the recent increase. The additional 59 cent increase on top of the existing rate will now likely push the total tax rate in the Capital City to about$5.30 per $100 of assessed value. This is a shockingly high rate when compared to the tax rate in the surrounding suburbs. Comparing the current tax rates, Trenton's total tax rate is about 82 cents higher than that of Hamilton Township, an adjoining municipality to the east.
What do Trenton residents get for their tax dollar? The conditions of the city roadways are abysmal. Some have suggested that they are more akin to those that have been mined in Baghdad. Would Trenton's roads compare favorably with any of its suburban municipalities? I think not. Quality education for our children is always a priority for responsible parents and an attractive selling point for businesses looking to relocate. Again in this area, Trenton gets a failing grade with a "Capital City" F. Parks and Recreation, are our tax dollars being well spent in this area? Again, I think not. Most all of Trenton's suburbs have attractive well maintained parks and recreation areas. Hamilton's Veterans and Kuser Parks, Ewing's Moody Park, Rosedale Park in Lawrence, Mercer County Park in West Windsor are but a few of the many examples. Have you stopped to look at the disparity in the youth sports league offerings between Trenton and the burbs? Although Trenton has many dedicated volunteers at its 3 Little League complexes, their hands are tied by the lack of funding the leagues receive and the lack of cooperative effort they get from the City and County.
One can certainly argue that about the only comparable services in the city and the burbs are the trash pick up (run by the county) and the police departments. When it comes to city policing I could write an entirely separate column. For introductory purposes let me just point out that the Trenton Police Department is that largest department in the County of Mercer and no Trenton is no longer the largest municipality (Hamilton is). The Trenton Police have an enormous budget, approaching 45 million annually. Despite the size of Trenton's Police Department are residents getting their bang for their bucks? Personally, I do not think so. Trenton is a town that has the additional presence of Mercer County Sherriff’s Officers, and the New Jersey State Police, yet I cannot remember the last time I saw an officer walking the beat.
So if any of you have any ideas how Trenton's residents can get more bang for their bucks in efficient City services, more efficient community policing, recreation for our children and adults, public safety and an overall better quality of life, please feel free to share your thoughts, start a discussion and offer solutions.
Brothers and sisters of Trenton, I believe the hope for a brighter future in Trenton begins with all of us. After we get the ball rolling, it is up to us to demand efficient performance from our elected representatives. Shout out loud and often and let the voice of all the people be heard. Encourage everyone to vote! There are historically significant municipal elections pending as well as a referendum on the sale of the Trenton Water Works. These issues will craft the city's immediate and perhaps long-term future. Let June 15 be the beginning of the people taking responsibility for their future and for a future that brings all of us a better Trenton.