County decline continues under GOP

For the past 13 years, the county Board of Freeholders has been an exclusively Republican club, and the results are in ...

njh-sccc-protest-450.jpgThe County has experienced a steady decline in housing prices augmented by a high number of foreclosures, an escalating exodus to more amenable areas, a growing number of young people unable to afford even community college, and rapidly expanding “ghost towns” of abandoned buildings that used to house people, small businesses and even manufacturers.

During the past decade or so, GOP leadership has brought Sussex County straight to the top: the highest decline in housing prices.  In Stanhope, for example, housing values have dropped by more than a third, 38 percent.

The County has also experienced the highest rate of households leaving.  Vernon has the highest rate in the state, and Hopatcong is also in the Top 10. Overall, the county has lost 3.7 percent of its population since 2015.

Meanwhile, the median income of people who still live here has dropped by 3.4 percent, and currently lists 598 foreclosed homes—meaning 598 displaced families—throughout the county.

The diminishing population and lower housing values leaves those who remain with the obligation to pick up the slack when it comes to taxes, making the county’s touted lower tax rate a moot point.

Not that lower taxes would be much of a selling point, however. What the Republicans running the county have failed to see, over and over again, is that in order to thrive, an area needs to do more than not collect money for, and thus not spend money on, quality-of-life basics that modern people in other parts of the state take for granted: not only basic services like garbage pickup and lit streets, but also amenities such modern libraries and senior centers, accessible recreation programs for all ages, public transportation (to shopping as well as places of employment). Young families, in particular, want to live where they can take a train or bus to work, keep their children busy with programs, and have a walkable downtown, even if only a block or two, where they can access restaurants, services and specialty shops.

It is time for Democrats to step up.