As a West Windsor mayoral candidate (wangformayor.com), I have had conversations with more than 200 senior homeowners in town.

For many of them, their comments were about the fact that it is getting harder for them to make ends meet and to stay in their own homes because of the ever increasing property taxes. I felt that it was urgent that I write this open letter to West Windsor senior and soon-to-be senior residents.

There are two types of N.J. property tax relief programs for seniors, that, in my experience (in addition to the federal and New Jersey property tax deductions), very many West Windsor senior home owners qualify for, and yet, may not know about:

1. Senior Freeze (a property tax reimbursement program (state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/ptr/index.shtml). If you are over 65, have lived in N.J. for more than 10 years, and your household income is less than $87,007 for 2015 and $70,000 for 2016, you maybe eligible for reimbursement of the difference between your current year property taxes and your property taxes for the year that you first became eligible for the freeze. The filing deadline is Oct. 17, 2017.

2. If you are over 65 and your gross income was less than $150,000 for 2014, or under 65 and your gross income was less than $75,000, you maybe eligible for a 2014 homestead benefit (state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/homestead/geninf.shtml).

On another, related subject: While it is true that a major portion of our tax is modulated at the state level, at the local level, the following initiatives can bring our property taxes down, significantly.

Better roads can save every family $300/year in tire maintenance alone, public transportation to township entities will, in the long term, save $300 in school bus cost per household (paid through property tax) and additional car expenses, and better city planning such as retaining the zoning of Howard Hughes property for research and offices can bring back the revenue we once had—another $500-1,000 per household. We are talking about a possibility of $2,000/household tax cut that I (as your mayor) and council can produce.

In summary, let property tax not be the cause of our seniors to leave. Retaining our seniors is a positive thing for all of us: it will help to relieve school burden—one less household with children, which can lower property taxes for everyone; less congestion—seniors commute at off-peak hours; and maintain social balance—their knowledge base is vast, and they also baby sit. We just cannot beat that, can we?

— Yan Mei Wang
Wang is running for West Windsor mayor