Myopic legislative leadership hurts Sussex homeowners

Folks are moving out of Sussex County faster than anywhere else in New Jersey. Two towns, Vernon and Hopatcong, are in the list of the top ten municipalities people are abandoning.

gop_legislators.jpgAnd Vernon is number one! Why? Real estate experts say not only is it a long haul to a decent paying job, but the whole area suffers from a lack of governmental services. “[P]oor transportation options and a lack of amenities have steered would-be residents away” from Vernon and other municipalities in the Sussex/Warren area.

The result is that the value of real estate (for some of us our home is our most significant asset) is plummeting. Homes and businesses are being abandoned. This is painfully obvious to anyone with a car and a desire to tour our beautiful county. Every third storefront on Spring Street in Newton is vacant. Main Street in Franklin is a ghost town. Former manufacturing establishments throughout the county are tumbled-down skeletons. We’re beginning to look more like areas surrounding Flint, Michigan, than other areas in New Jersey that are prospering.

You would think that this would be a call to action for the legislators who represent Sussex and Warren counties.

Instead, they’re patting themselves on the back for getting “more bang for our tax buck.”

Congressman Scott Garrett, State Senator Steve Oroho, Assemblyman Parker Space and Assemblywoman Gail Phoebus gleefully cite a study ranking Sussex County the number one tax value in the state.

Wonderful! We’re paying less tax than elsewhere. But we’re getting way less. And that’s costing us in the long run. The value of our homes is plummeting. Our neighbors are leaving, often abandoning their homes. Look around the county. There are abandoned houses everywhere.

The fact of the matter is that a dearth of “transportation options and a lack of amenities” is costing us. People are leaving because they learned that elsewhere in the State they might pay a little more in taxes, but they receive adequate governmental services in return.

Taking into account the need for stable property values, Sussex County’s Republican politicians don’t have a lot to crow about when it comes to protecting the financial well being of their constituents.