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State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff announced Wednesday that nearly $400 million in property tax relief to residents will be delayed by up to nine months. / Asbury Park (N.J.) Press

TRENTON, N.J. ?? Thousands of senior citizens and disabled people will not be seeing any property tax relief this year in New Jersey, despite a promise from Gov. Chris Christie's administration to deliver the money in August.

State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff announced Wednesday that nearly $400 million in property tax relief to residents will be delayed by up to nine months in an effort to help close an $807 million budget shortfall. That money was scheduled to be disbursed in the first quarter of fiscal year 2015, which will begin July 1. Instead, the state now has until June 2015 to give the money back to residents.

But the state will maintain the option of lapsing the payments into fiscal year 2016, which will begin on July 1, 2015.

The state's property tax relief program has been whittled down over the years so that it is aimed at the elderly and disabled. The amount given back also has been cut back. For instance, in Wall Township, the average benefit for senior citizens was $567 last year, down from a high of $1,292.

Christie announced Tuesday that he planned to cut the state's payment into the public employees' pension systems by nearly $2.5 billion over the next 14 months to help close the gap. That led the New Jersey Education Association and the Communications Workers of America to announce they would sue Christie in an effort to force the full payments.

The news of the property tax relief delay led Democrats on the committee to criticize the Republican governor's administration over a patchwork budget that relies on fee increases and reduced pension payments. The state's finances have been frowned upon by the three main credit-rating firms, all of which have downgraded New Jersey's ratings, making it more expensive to borrow money.

"The problem I have with this budget is that there is no planning," said Democratic Assemblyman Gary Schaer, the committee chairman. He implored Christie "to take responsibility."



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Cash-strapped N.J. to delay $400M in tax relief

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