He said he was upset to discover that the township faced its first property tax increase this year despite a $26,000 decrease in the total levy. "We're starting in the hole," said Brown.
His remarks followed a presentation by Township Manager William Cromie and chief financial officer Tom Shanahan that showed that the total valuation of taxable property in the town had declined by $241 million since 2009.
So many property owners have successfully appealed their assessments that Evesham reimbursed them $1.56 million last year, Cromie said.
Under New Jersey law, however, the school and fire districts do not have to give back a prorated share of those reimbursements or help pay for the costs of defending a tax appeal.
"It's unfair. These other entities should play under the same rules we do," said Brown, who has begun talking about a run for governor after Gov. Christie steps down.
He also called on the Legislature to enact Senate Bill 1896, introduced by Anthony R. Bucco (R., Morris), which would require that reimbursements for tax refunds "be apportioned . . . between the municipality, county, school districts, and any other tax district."
Bucco said the bill, which he introduced last May, was stalled "because I'm in the minority party."
Mike Cerra, senior legislative analyst for the New Jersey League of Municipalities, said Tuesday that the current tax formula is a "matter of statewide concern" for municipalities and that the league supports Bucco's bill.
Last year Evesham collected $20.8 million in taxes for local use and an additional $116 million for the schools, county, and fire district.
Sandy Student, president of the Evesham School District, which operates the town's grade schools, said during a break in the meeting that he supported the idea. "Fairness is fairness," he said. "I'm president of the school board, but I'm also a resident."
He said he thought the idea of reimbursing the township for what it loses in tax appeals would be "quite alien" to other members of his board, but that he would present it to them at their next meeting.
Because the local school district represents nearly 40 percent of the total tax levy the municipality collects each year, Student said, its share of a reimbursement on the $1.56 million the town paid last year would be $611,000.
The Lenape district represents about 24 percent of the levy. The fire district is about 5 percent, and Burlington County and Evesham are about 15 percent each.
Contact David O'Reilly at 856-779-3841, email@example.com, or @doreillyinq on Twitter.