When neighbors and community members inadvertently gather, whether it be over coffee in town or while standing outside their homes doing yard work, the conversation inevitably turns to the subject of our high real estate taxes. The moaning and groaning usually makes one leave feeling cheated and angry.
Yet, as Essex County residents, we all enjoy one of the biggest benefits of living in suburban towns that offer the greatest access to New York City – a place many of us go to earn the bucks to afford living in our towns. This access accounts for why the homes in the area experienced less of a decline in value during the recent housing crisis than almost anywhere else in the United States.
In addition to providing easy access to NYC, our towns have excellent police, fire and EMS services. The streets are well maintained, and each town has thriving recreational departments offering everything from soccer, baseball and lacrosse programs to manicured town pools which come in extra handy during the summer months. There’s also low cost summer day camps, art classes, snow skiing/snow boarding, beautifully maintained parks and fields.
But perhaps most importantly, our towns continue to have some of the top performing public school systems in the country. This alone is reason enough to account for the taxes we pay. In California where the real estate taxes are extremely low – their public school system has been greatly compromised to the point where sending your child to public school is almost not an option.
We can’t resist moaning and groaning over sticking our hands in our pockets to pay our real estate taxes– especially since our pockets are not feeling very deep at the moment. But we should also give equal or more time to affirming the many services and benefits we enjoy as a result.