New Jersey homeowners do a lot of complaining about the state's highest-in-the-nation property taxes. Maybe it's time to do something about it.

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To get the creative juices flowing among taxpayers, legislators and organizations, the nonprofit Courage to Connect NJ is offering five $1,000 cash prizes to those who come up with the most creative but realistic ways to reduce New Jersey's property taxes.

The initiative launched at the start of 2017. The application deadline is April 15.

"Frankly, if we're going to make systemic changes in New Jersey, we need to get everyone involved," said Gina Genovese, executive director of Courage to Connect NJ, which was created in part to find ways to reduce the high cost of property taxes in the state's 500-plus municipalities.

"It's about time that we all start talking and sharing some good ideas and look to a brighter future," she said. "We keep talking about the same things and we're going nowhere."

Property tax growth in New Jersey averaged 2.4 percent in 2015, the largest jump in four years.

According to Genovese, a former mayor of Long Hill, too much of the conversation about New Jersey's property taxes focuses on the why and who's to blame. But the real focus should be on a solution.

The idea was sparked by the Municipal Consolidation and Efficiency Competition in New York, which is asking local governments in that state to develop proposals for consolidation and cost-savings. The consortium that demonstrates the most innovative thinking has a shot at $20 million to implement the proposal.

Genovese said the $1,000 awards will be awarded at a conference in Trenton on May 17, where the ideas will be discussed.

"It's not just winning a $1,000 grant. It's getting your idea out there and recognized, and that's the important thing," she said.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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