A local ballot question put to Toms River voters asked for a tax hike to help fund open space purchases. This is the second time a tax increase was put to public vote recently, and the second time the efforts failed.
Yes, 11,314 votes (43.74%)
No, 14,551 votes (56.26%)√
Though each council candidate included preserving open space among their campaign material, raising taxes to fund these acquisitions failed to pass voter muster. The township asked voters to approve a $0.01 tax rate increase per $100 of property value. This would have brought the total open space tax to 2.5 cents per $100.
The fund is used to buy land for recreation, conservation or preservation. In the lead up to the public question, Mayor Mo Hill urged voters to check “yes” to the tax increase as a means to slow over-development and meet the higher prices the land is fetching in this real estate market.
Officials have previously said a ‘no’ vote on the referendum could stymie open space purchases for two years.
“Without the [referendum], our hands are tied until 2023 and 2024 when the bonds from our original open space tax are paid off,” said Mayor Maurice “Mo” Hill.
Hill said about $300,000 remains in the open space account as it currently stands, which “will not allow us to bond for very much.” If the referendum is approved, the township would have acquired $16.5 million in buying power.
The board of elections results are unofficial until accepted next week, when any provisional ballots cast are certified and mail-in ballots timestamped through 8 p.m. today are received by the clerk.