My Turn by Terry Zielinski Former councilman must live in a cave

| 30 Aug 2012 | 12:15

    I read with interest former Councilman Robert Nolan’s letter to the editor regarding lakefront property owners complaining about their increased taxes. Mr. Nolan won’t be paying any increased property tax next year because the lakefront property owners will be paying it for him.
    The object of the tax revaluation was to “distribute the taxes fairly to all property owners in West Milford.” At least, this is what the letter stated from ASI, the company that did the reassessment. Instead, they shifted the tax burden to those of us who live on a lake and to commercial property owners in town.
    The township council budget for next year went down one percent. The township’s budget stayed even. So taxes in West Milford didn’t really go up; they just shifted to the lakefront property owners. So why did taxes in West Milford have to shift to this select group? I have no idea. That’s why I am appealing my tax increase for next year.
    I live on Kitchell Lake. A total of 84 houses surround Kitchell Lake. All of us are members of the Kitchell Lake Association. All of us have access to the lake. All of us are charged with the responsibility of taking care of this lake. All of us pay association dues to the tune of $644 which covers yearly activities for all members. We also installed a $50,000 filtration system two years ago to ensure that this lake was clean. (We’re still paying the loan).
    We don’t get a dime from the state of New Jersey for taking care of this lake. We don’t get any advice from the state to tell us what to do to ensure their lake is clean and free from pollutants. In fact, we didn’t get any help from the state of New Jersey to take care of their lake, one of 15 lakes in West Milford. The state of New Jersey makes it very clear that they own the lake. It is our job, however, to take care of the lake. Perhaps we should send them our bill!
    So my taxes are going up $1,945 next year. This is on top of the $12,000 that I already pay. Mr. Nolan says that I should be a happy camper because I live on a lake and near wildlife which includes deer and bears and geese.
    According to the former councilman, all lakefront people should just sit on our hands and not complain that we live on a lake so that we can pay higher taxes. This is because some company that the township council hired “assumes” that lakefront property is worth more because of the water even though my neighbors across Kitchell Lake Drive live in houses bigger than mine.
    We shouldn’t complain to the township council because they actually represent the people who live here. We shouldn’t demand that they help us get a “fair shake” with this reassessment. We should stop “beating the tax relief” drum because some council members are getting tired of hearing from us and are getting uncomfortable receiving questions from residents about increased taxes which have dominated the local newspapers since April when we learned that our taxes—along with commercial property owners—were being increased not just a little, but a lot.
    That’s good news! Our efforts may be finally paying off.
    Perhaps when former Councilman Nolan was a member of the township council, he could have dedicated his term of office to helping Trenton politicians see the inequity of property taxes paying for schools ($8,000 of my tax bill goes to support the West Milford school system).
    Perhaps former Councilman Nolan should have stopped the new library from being built at a time when residents are trying to figure out how to read their “tax bill for 2013” (this is not a bill) which just arrived in the mail.
    Perhaps former Councilman Nolan could have taken a few trips to Trenton to stop the Newark Watershed from getting their latest tax deduction which, in turn, resulted in a higher tax bill to West Milford residents.
    The easiest way to solve this problem is to tax the water for the residents who use it downstate. That’s the least the state of New Jersey could do for us mountain folk who are charged with the task of taking care of the water for all of New Jersey residents. Knowing that millions of gallons of water flow downstate at a penny a gallon would surely solve the tax woes of West Milford residents.
    But this must be radical thinking. Lakefront property owners are now stuck with trying to figure out how to live in a forest.
    I’m glad that former Councilman Nolan is retired from political life. He needs to live in the wild with his friends the deer, the bear and the geese. If the Lakefront Property Owners of West Milford are not successful in their bid to “roll back the tax” or at least fix the “inequities in the tax reassessment,” lakefront property owners soon will be joining him in the wild because we surely won’t be able to afford the houses that we’re living in much longer.