As the second longest serving Board member at Fairness In Taxes I’ve witnessed four transformations of FIT’s leadership over the past 16 years. Not only presidents but officers and board members as well.
Recently I heard a criticism of FIT that brought back memories. I had moved back to Ocean City to become a full-time resident and heard someone criticizing an organization called “Fairness In Taxes” that was supposed to be on its last legs. Curious, I attended one of their Board meetings and discovered nothing could be further from the truth. What I found was a group of individuals dedicated to overseeing how Ocean City was spending its tax dollars, educating the public of their findings, and advocating for reasonable alternatives where identified. During the Administration of Bud Knight, I witnessed a public workshop held at the Music Pier attended by hundreds of people, and a petition drive to get tax and spending caps enacted which resulted in the organization being sued by the Administration. The organization that had been pronounced “dying” fought all the way to the New Jersey Supreme Court. Although FIT lost that battle, the banner was taken up by a Republican gubernatorial candidate by the name of Chris Christie. After he was elected, he took a page out of our play book and in 2010 enacted an annual property tax growth limit of 2%. We lost a battle for our city, only to win a war for our state.
Over the succeeding years FIT has reviewed every municipal and school budget, asked questions either openly at public meetings or in writing, made recommendations and educated the public through our newsletter, website, advertisements, op-eds and press releases. More recently, FIT was the only organization to question the 9-million-dollar price that the City was willing to pay for the purchase of the Klause property. Our newly elected president, Dave Hayes, and vice president Dave Breeden led our investigation which uncovered faulty appraisals, biased negotiating, and a lack of transparency. We continue to keep and eye on activities impacting your tax dollars whether it be related to affordable housing, proposed zoning changes, environmental hazards, or code enforcement. New additions to our Board include John and Susan Cracovaner and Cindy Nevitt. Also, Donna Moore has brought passion and a willingness to do extensive research on the fiscal impact of environmental decisions made by the administration.
So, if you hear anyone say that FIT is no longer a valuable organization, or that we are “negative,” take that as a sign that we are doing our job.
Jim Tweed, past president of FIT