Toms River Open Space Question Will Be On Ballot

(Photo by Sara Grillo)

TOMS RIVER – A question will be placed on the ballot in November asking residents if they want to increase the open space tax by 1.5 cents.

This isn’t a repeat of last year.

Last year, Toms River had a question on the ballot asking people if they wanted more open space. There were 17,949 votes “yes” votes to 3,852 “no” votes. Specifically, it asked if the residents wanted to buy 250 acres of space.

However, that was just a nonbinding referendum. This means that the question was just asked to gauge the public’s interest. The new question would make an actual change.

Currently, the township collects an open space tax of 1.5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The referendum, if it is passed in November, would double it to 3 cents.

Township business administrator Don Guardian said that the town collects about $900,000 a year now, and this measure, if passed, would double it.

Residents who live in a home valued at around $300,000, which is roughly the township average, pay $45 a year now, he said. This would double that to $90.

Most purchases would be bonded, he said. This would allow the town to make larger purchases for smaller annual payments, with interest, rather than buying it as a lump sum.

The open space tax was approved originally in a referendum held in November of 2000, with the first tax being collected in 2001.

Residents have been complaining lately of additional residential development, particularly in the northern section of town.