McCullough Calls on DEP to Explain and Work with Homeowners

4/23/07

Senator Sonny McCullough today called NJ Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa Jackson to work with certain area property taxpayers who were hit with sharp increase in riparian land fees.

?It?s tax first, explain later with Trenton,? said McCullough. ?Local property taxpayers had no idea this increase was coming. In many cases, homeowners saw an over 500% percent increase. The state just can?t send a bill to homeowners and order them to ?Pay it? without any kind of detailed explanation.?

?Out of the blue, these homeowners get a letter saying that have to fork over additional thousands of dollars. Now, who has that kind of money just lying around to give to the state?? asked McCullough. ?The letter just said the Tidelands Council voted for an increase. The letter offered no clue why the Tidelands Council chose to do this or offered any options for homeowners to meet this sudden obligation. ?The Department of Environmental Protection must be responsive to the citizens of Atlantic County and the State of New Jersey,? said McCullough. It was brought to my attention by the Brigantine Mayor Phil Guenther and residents of Brigantine. One home owner went from $1,258 per year for their dock permit to nearly $6,900. Others went to over ten thousand dollars.

?If the DEP?s goal is to simply generate revenue, then the department is being shortsighted. These homeowners will find cheaper options on where they can keep their boats and the state will lose the revenue they currently collect.

?The Commissioner needs to talk with these homeowners and listen closely to what they have to say,? said McCullough. ?As soon as Trenton starts to listen first, things in this state will be much better.?

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