When Conservatives Call One Another Liberals

The Republican primary campaign for Morris County freeholder is now taking a predictable, if not off-the wall, turn.

The challengers are now calling the incumbents “liberals.” And, of course, they are the “conservatives.”

Candidates Donald Dinsmore, William Felegi and Cathy Winterfield have sent out a release calling incumbents Tom Mastrangelo, Doug Cabana and Kathy DeFillippo “liberals.”

Broadly speaking, there is nothing novel here.

It’s common in Republican primaries to see one slate of candidates decry their opponents as (God forbid) “liberals.”

But is it true? Is it effective?

Those, of course, are two different questions.

One of the cited facts here is that the incumbents are “hiding” from $26 million in higher taxes.

The reference is to the fact the county’s overall tax levy has increased by $26 million over the last four years. However, because of a rising tax base (ratables) the tax rate – what people actually pay – has stayed roughly the same.

So, the truth here is certainly questionable.

As for the effectiveness of the strategy, who knows?

Those who don’t follow things closely may be inclined to back the “conservative” candidates. Years ago, that’s how Hank Lyon, who backs the insurgents this time around, got elected.

Yet the incumbents are campaigning hard and are far better known in GOP circles.

Recall that Lyon’s opponent, Margaret Nordstrom, largely took things for granted.

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  • tiredofit

    “However, because of a rising tax base (ratables) the tax rate – what people actually pay – has stayed roughly the same.”

    The “tax rate” is not what people actually pay any more than your mortgage rate is what you actually pay for your house. The tax rate multiplied by the value of your property is what you actually pay, so if the tax rate stays flat but your property value goes up then your taxes go up.

    If the tax collections rose by $26M then taxpayers paid $26 million in taxes then taxes went up by $26M.

    Now this could be because of property values rising where existing taxpayers pay more, or because of new construction where the new ratables pay the increase and existing taxpayers would not see the increase.

    But the tax rate is only half the equation that determines tax dollars paid, and is NOT equivalent to the taxes collected.

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