Toms River Township’s Mayor and Council are asking residents to approve increasing the Open Space tax to help preserve more of the township’s remaining vacant land so it can’t be used for development.
There is a referendum question on the ballot for Toms River voters to choose whether or not to increase the municipal special open space tax, effective January 1, 2022, an additional $0.01 per $100 of total Township equalized property real property valuation.
If approved, the total special open space tax will increase to 2.5 cents per $100 of total Township equalized real property valuation.
As an example, if the ordinance is approved, an owner of real property assessed at $100,000 would annually pay $25 into the Open Space Trust Fund, compared to $15 today. A homeowner with a house assessed at $250,000 would pay about $63 a year in open space taxes, compared with about $38 today.
The 1-cent increase in the open space tax would raise about $1.3 million a year, township officials have said. That would allow Toms River to bond, if needed, to buy parcels of land as they become available.
All revenue generated by the tax must be deposited into the Township’s open space trust fund and could only be used for acquisition of property for recreational needs or open space preservation.
The last time Toms River residents were asked if they wanted to increase the open space tax, was back in 2018, and their answer was a resounding “no” by more than 60% of voters who voted against doubling the open space tax from 1.5 to 3 cents.
Since 2003, Toms River has preserved 400 acres of land using the Open Space tax, including the acquisition of the JAMM Realty property at Hooper Avenue and College Drive, where 320 apartment units had been planned, and the purchase of property on Fischer Boulevard at Water’s Edge Drive where a Home Depot store had been proposed.