“Mr. Mayor, can I just add something, going back to some of the comments of Mr. Magiera?” asked Councilwoman-At-Large Charlene Storey during the November 19th Mayor & Council meeting, “It occurs to me that people who are not following some things online may not be aware of this. I know that Councilman Kelly had sent out something pointing this out to everyone that the State is investigating several municipalities because they have not done a reval in so long and I gather that even more have been added to that list since it came out. Some of them were bigger towns like Jersey City, some of them now though are smaller I understand Roselle, Westfield, Winfield have been added to that list. So we are at least in the position where we won’t face any legal problems because we have not done our reval. I know a lot of people say, ‘Well a lot of people haven’t done it why [have] we done?’ it well, now we can say this is why because we did not want to have any legal problems at any time and because it is the fair thing to do.”
She was referring to an article in The Star-Ledger on November 19th by Samantha Marcus titled “Municipalities investigated for delay in reassessments“. The article discussed the New Jersey Division of Taxation’s investigation of municipalities in Union, Hudson, and Middlesex counties that failed to conduct properties reassessments for decades.
Jacob Magiera had previously touched upon the subject during the public comment portion of the meeting earlier in the evening. Mr. Magiera stated, “In reference to revaluation, a few years ago Paul Endler, former [borough] tax assessor, suggested to Mayor & Council to reval. One political party was outside heating up the tar and the other political party was outside plucking the chicken feathers to run him out of town . . . Please read the New Jersey section, pages 21 and 23 of The Star Ledger, “Municipalities investigated for delay in reassessments“.
The topic is relevant to Roselle Park since last year’s governing body voted to conduct a townwide revaluation and hire a firm, Realty Appraisal Company, to conduct the revaluation. This was after years of then Mayor Joseph Accardi making it a focal point of his administration to update the values of properties in the borough to current rates. The average assessed value of houses for decades has been $65,000 – way below the current market value. Realty Appraisal Company has completed its inspection stage of the revaluation and is currently holding one-on-one interviews with property owners to review assessments, which are now $254,000. The new tax rates will be established next year and a new baseline will be set for the borough.
The references to the state investigation stem from a November 18th release from the New Jersey Department of Treasury. A major point of the reason for the investigation in the three aforementioned counties was due to the fact that, according to the New Jersey Division of Taxation,they were “the only three counties in the state in which tax boards have consistently failed to require towns to uniformly and fairly assess properties.”
A copy of the release is available below:
The significant statute, NJSA 54:1-26 (Authority of director to reassess property), reads:
When the Director of the Division of Taxation has reason to believe that any property, including the property of railroad and canal companies, has been assessed at a rate lower than is consistent with the purpose of securing uniform taxable valuation of property according to law for the purpose of taxation, or that the assessment of property according to law in a taxing district is not in substantial compliance with the law and that the interests of the public will be promoted by a reassessment of such property, he may, after due investigation, order or make a reassessment of any property undervalued or a reassessment of all the property in the taxing district.
The three Union County municipalities listed in the release had low tax ratios. Elizabeth’s rate is 13.4%, Winfield’s rate is 8.36, and Westfield’s rate is 24.62. Roselle Park’s ratio is 25.99, little less than a point and a half more than Westfield’s. Winfield had a reassessment done in 1972 while the last time Elizabeth conducted a revaluation was 1976 and Westfield’s last townwide revaluation was in 1982; Roselle Park’s previous revaluation was in 1973.
The costs associated with a revaluation include the drawing up of recent tax maps as well as the hiring of a revaluation firm, both, if not an expected and planned for expense, can impact any current year’s municipal budget.
For reference, a 2014 listing of all municipalities that have not conducted property revaluations or assessments in at least a decade.
|Atlantic||Egg Harbor Twp||1996||1987|
|Atlantic||Port Republic City||1984||1972|
|Atlantic||Somers Point City||1987||1998|
|Bergen||North Arlington Boro||1988||0000|
|Burlington||Edgewater Park Twp||1985||1994|
|Burlington||Mt. Holly Twp||1987||1991|
|Burlington||Mt. Laurel Twp||1987||1995|
|Burlington||North Hanover Twp||1989||1984|
|Camden||Cherry Hill Twp||1993||1971|
|Camden||Laurel Springs Boro||1984||1993|
|Camden||Mount Ephraim Boro||1997||1971|
|Cumberland||Stow Creek Twp||2000||1971|
|Cumberland||Upper Deerfield Twp||1996||1971|
|Essex||West Caldwell Twp||1988||1994|
|Essex||West Orange Twp||1984||1963|
|Gloucester||East Greenwich Twp||1994||1971|
|Gloucester||National Park Boro||1994||1971|
|Gloucester||West Deptford Township||1994||1962|
|Hudson||East Newark Boro||1986||1976|
|Hudson||North Bergen Twp||1992||0000|
|Hudson||West New York Town||1991||0000|
|Middlesex||East Brunswick Twp||1983||1973|
|Middlesex||Highland Park Boro||1990||1991|
|Middlesex||New Brunswick City||1991||1989|
|Middlesex||North Brunswick Twp||1985||1999|
|Middlesex||Old Bridge Twp||1972||1990|
|Middlesex||South Brunswick Twp||1974||1989|
|Middlesex||South Plainfield Boro||1986||1973|
|Middlesex||South River Boro||1986||1973|
|Passaic||North Haledon Boro||1986||1964|
|Passaic||Pompton Lakes Boro||1993||1970|
|Passaic||Prospect Park Boro||1957||1988|
|Passaic||West Milford Twp||1988||1964|
|Passaic||Woodland Park Boro||1993||1966|
|Somerset||Rocky Hill Boro||1982||1997|
|Union||Berkleley Heights Twp||1999||1972|
|Union||New Providence Boro||1998||1972|
|Union||Roselle Park Boro||1973||1984|
|Union||Scotch Plains Twp||1984||1968|