GSI forum: Straight talk … from the accountant

Certified Public Accountant Daniel Geltrude summed up the issue of affordability in the state last week by asking the audience at Garden State Initiative’s Economic Forum a series of questions.

“How many of you in this room have contemplated leaving New Jersey or have thought about, ‘When can I leave New Jersey?’ or have thought about, ‘Why am I in New Jersey?’” he asked.

“If you fall into that category, there’s something wrong. And the reason there’s something wrong is because the cost of living is far too high here. Our taxes are far too high. Am I telling anyone a secret that only a CPA would know? I don’t think so. I think we all know the truth, so, the truth is, we have this big problem.”

One he discusses all the time, he said.

“At least once a week, if not more, I have meeting with clients about how to leave New Jersey,” he said. “That’s actually part of my job. It’s part of my fiduciary responsibility to talk about what is best for them economically.

“My firm (Nutley-based Geltrude & Co.) has businesses on Main Street and billionaires as clients, some of which are the largest employers in the state. I would say that I am on the front lines on what’s happening in New Jersey. Affordability. Taxes. It’s the same story, no matter where you are economically. Whether you can afford it, if you are at the lower end of the stages or if you are someone of means. They can move and they will move.

“The question becomes, ‘What are we going to do about this?’”

(READ MORE from ROI-NJ on the GSI Economic Forum.)

Geltrude then answered his own question.

“We all know what we want the end result to be and we know what the answer is: Spend less — even if you keep taxes the same, or lower them both, as long as you lower spending more,” he said. “Do you have to be a weight loss expert or a CPA to figure out? No, we already know it.

“But do we have the political will to make it happen?

“If we have the political will to do this, it will happen. It may cost people their seats, because they have to do things that are unpopular, but it can be done.  If we don’t, me, along with all the other accountants in New jersey, will have to counsel our clients as part of our job on how to leave New Jersey. And it’s a shame.

“To be honest with you, I have those plans myself. Why do I stay? Because I have to. And that’s the answer that people say to me. And ask yourself, do you say the same thing?”