Property Prices, Lawyers, PILOT – Thursday’s Roundup

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Property Prices
There’s a chasm between the top and bottom of New Jersey’s property market, according to Cat Country 107.3 in a story that – on closer inspection – turned out to be a rehash of a piece originally reported by last week (for those charting the decline of the media, this is a practice known as ‘churnalism’). It’s worth revisiting the original report, though, because it gets at something that we’ve talked about – and lots of people talk about – often around here. Absecon Island is home to Longport, where property sales recently reached the highest median price for the greater Philadelphia region, and Atlantic City, at most eight miles away, and where property prices have been sluggish at best for a decade. It’s also worth revisiting this map from NJSpotlight, which shows another factor in the property-price mix. Longport has one of the lowest tax rates in the state, but one of the highest average tax bills per household, while Atlantic City has one of the highest tax rates in the state, but a still-low average tax bill per household.

New Jersey employs 500 lawyers, which sounds like a group worthy of its own collective noun, but whatever you’d call them there are – apparently – still not enough of them to do all the paper pushing the state needs. It’s mind boggling, but the Asbury Park Press has a neat investigation into the state’s practice of hiring external lawyers. SPOILER ALERT: some of the contracted lawyers have political connections!

The back-and-forth between Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian and Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson over how much, exactly, the county should get from the casinos’ payment-in-lieu-of-taxes made it into print (again) yesterday, after Levinson wrote a public letter here in retort to Guardian’s earlier public letter on the topic. Levinson’s point is that county taxpayers really can’t afford to keep making up the difference every time the casinos’ part of the tax pie gets cut – but Atlantic City taxpayers feel similarly about their tax bills so it’s hard to see who is going to blink first in this fight. Meanwhile the city is still under a state takeover and, as a reminder, nothing has changed since November to solve the city’s fiscal crisis, beyond the state’s move to introduce higher property taxes for AC residents and up the ante in a court battle with the firefighters’ union.

The rest of today’s headlines include a look at a model overdose-antidote policy in a South Jersey high school, an anti-addiction awareness campaign planned across the state and the latest arguments for and against legal marijuana in the state. All that and more below:


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