ISELIN, N.J. - New Jersey residents are likely to see their property taxes rise by more than 2 percent next year despite a levy cap that takes effect Jan. 1, the leader of the state Senate said yesterday.

Senate President Steve Sweeney told the New Jersey Business and Industry Association that businesses and homeowners can expect increases greater than 2 percent unless the economy improves dramatically. A stagnant economy means local governments collect less in taxes.

"If the economy turns around and you have growth in your tax base, you should be able to cover your costs," Sweeney said. "The problem is, I don't see growth in the economy."

New Jersey residents already pay the country's highest property taxes, averaging nearly $7,300 per year. Businesses pay about 40 percent of property-tax collections, totaling $8.3 billion last year and contributing to the state's notoriously unfriendly business climate.

The Legislature approved and Gov. Chris Christie signed a 2 percent cap on property-tax growth this year. Pension and health-care costs are exempt. Those costs have been rising at double-digit rates per year.