According to the First Ward Councilman and Finance Chair Andrew Casais, the bid specifications for the town wide revaluation are being finalized and within the coming week, it should go out for bid.
The last part needed to move forward with the reval, as it is commonly known, was having the borough’s tax maps certified by the State of New Jersey. The almost year-long back and forth with the New Jersey Department of Treasury – the entity in charge of overseeing such matters – came to an end late September and the State certified the maps. This clears the way for the municipality to proceed with the town wide revaluation.
Councilman-At-Large and Mayor-Elect Carl Hokanson asked Councilman Casias on the dais, “Would you please inform the public that we’ve said from day one once we have the company under contract there will be representatives here?”
The First Ward Councilman responded, “Once the bid goes through the statutory process and we accept one of the bidders, we will organize and make sure that they have public information sessions here as we agreed to in one of the first budget meetings in February or March.”
Councilman Casais added that the information sessions, between two and three of them, are a requirement of the contract. The meetings will be advertised to allow residents to hear information and ask questions of the firm that successfully bids the revaluation.
“We want to make it a transparent process as possible,” said Councilman Casais.
The discussion between the governing body was in reference to statements made by Fifth Ward Councilman Michael Yakubov during his campaign for mayor. The councilman, who was not at the meeting due to a prior job responsibility, public stated that he wanted to have firms come in before the bid is awarded to answer questions from the governing body as well as the public. The issue with that scenario is that if the firm is picked, those who were not able to speak with the public could have grounds to appeal the awarding of the bid due to conflicts or interest or favor. Additionally, one firm might have a process that is different from another firm that wins the bid and might cause more issues with the process. Additionally, earlier in the year, an anonymous flier that contained misinformation was distributed to certain areas of town which caused angry questioning of the revaluation process. It later became an issue during the campaign when it was brought up in interviews with the candidates as well as the mayoral debate.
Chief Financial Officer also stated that once that bid is awarded by the municipality, it has to be presented to the State for their approval and then it goes to the County Board [of Taxation] to be approved by them as well. Currently, there are only ten (10) revaluation firms that are certified by the State to conduct townwide revaluations.
Previously this year, council unanimously voted to have a townwide revaluation – the first in a quarter of a century.