Trenton’s 2018 Report Card

We’ve got a new Mayor and a new City Council.   They obviously haven’t had a chance to do much but then again none of them have expressed any desire to meet any goal around the 5 measures listed annually in this report card.

The 2018 Report Card will tell us whether or not the Jackson administration actually did move the needle as Mayor Gusciora’s campaign team has claimed.

All five of the following are “lagging” indicators, meaning they represent the past, but they are objective and widely used measurements collected in a consistent way across the state and nation.   There’s no hand-waving with these numbers.

  • Crime levels as measured by the Uniform Crime Report
  • Population growth as measured by the U.S. Census Bureau (in the case of Trenton, every year)
  • Graduation rate as measured by the NJ Department of Education
  • Median Household Income as measured by the U.S. Census, and
  • Economic success as measured by our Tax Base

Crime is down a bit but we had more murders

The 2017 Uniform Crime Report represents last year’s crime

  • Uniform Crime Reports for 2017 are 3276
  • This is a decrease from 2016 of 1.1%
  • Murders were up from 21 in 2016 to 23 in 2017

Trenton held basically holding the rate steady, though Trentonians have become more murderous over the years.  TPD cleared 15% of its cases in 2017 which compares favourably to Newark (9%) but unfavourably to Hamilton (31%).   Our crime is still much than the state average but for not getting too much worse I give Trenton a C in 2017.

Source: NJ State Police

Trenton gained a little population

Trenton’s 2017 census estimate is 84,964 residents.  This is a 1.1% increase from 2016’s population of 84,056 and flat since 2010.

This number is up, a little.  So that’s good.   New Jersey as a whole gained 2.4% in population since 2010 meaning that Trenton is not keeping pace.

For turning this thing around for the first time (since I’ve been tracking), Trenton gets an C.

Source: US Census Bureau

Graduation rates have go up!

The Trenton school district’s 2017 graduation rate was 70.14%. This is a good uptick from 2016’s rate of 66.55% and 2015’s rate of 68.63% and a huge improvement over 2014’s 52%

70% isn’t great BUT it’s a big improvement and indicates that something is happening.   Perhaps not having the old Trenton Central High building has stirred things up.

Hamilton and Ewing School Districts hover around 90% graduation rate so maybe it’s possible to get there.  Who knows, maybe the new school will make a difference.

Because the trend is up over several years, Trenton gets an C.

Source:  NJ Dept. of Education

Incomes in Trenton stayed flat

Median Household Incomes in Trenton grew slightly to $34.415 (2016 numbers) from $34,257 (2015).  These are very low numbers and show why it is that housing prices aren’t growing.    Furthermore, 27.6% of people in Trenton live in poverty.

New Jersey’s median household income is more than double Trenton’s at $73,702 over double Trenton’s income.

For having stagnant and very low incomes in one of the wealthiest states in the country, Trenton gets an F.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Tax Base is up a lot

Trenton doesn’t maintain a current publicly available tax list,  so I’ve to use the Dept. of Community Affairs web site.  It gives our tax base as $2,395,945,829  for year end 2017.  This is up almost $400,000,000 from 2016 and represents an 18% increase.  Quite frankly this is a big number and must be the result of the revaluation.

As a comparison, Hamilton’s tax base is over $8.5B and tiny Princeton’s is over $7B.

$2.4B in tax base isn’t enough to support Trenton by a long shot but it’s a big improvement even if it just reflects getting our tax rates somewhat straightened out.  For at least showing a bigger number, I give Trenton an C.

Source: Department of Community Affairs

Did the Jackson administration move the needle?  … Almost!

  • The Education numbers are promising, the crime rate is down and our tax base has been overhauled
  • Going strictly by the numbers, I’d say the needle moved.  However, its likely we didn’t see real investment of $400M in Trenton, just real revalution.

If a Mayor and City Council really were interested in progress they would highlight these 5 numbers in every meeting, every State of the City and with the State.    Every dollar spent would be to improve the numbers year over year.   Instead, for the 18th year in a row (since I’ve lived in Trenton) all I get from our government is hand waving.

Link to the 2017 Report Card

Link to the 2016 Report Card

Link to the 2015 Report Card

Link to the 2014 Report Card

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