Councilwoman Addresses State Investigation Of Towns That Failed To Conduct Assessment

“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:

Download File (PDF)

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.

AtlanticCorbin City20001976
AtlanticEgg Harbor Twp19961987
AtlanticHamilton Twp19871993
AtlanticHammonton Town19971972
AtlanticMullica Twp19951976
AtlanticPort Republic City19841972
AtlanticSomers Point City19871998
AtlanticWeymouth Twp19971962
BergenCarlstadt Boro19931979
BergenGarfield City19881993
BergenNorth Arlington Boro19880000
BergenTenafly Boro19941978
BurlingtonBeverly City19931965
BurlingtonEdgewater Park Twp19851994
BurlingtonHainesport Twp19731989
BurlingtonMedford Twp19881965
BurlingtonMt. Holly Twp19871991
BurlingtonMt. Laurel Twp19871995
BurlingtonNorth Hanover Twp19891984
BurlingtonPalmyra Boro19851993
BurlingtonPemberton Boro19841992
BurlingtonPemberton Twp19901978
BurlingtonShamong Twp19891987
BurlingtonWestampton Twp19701991
BurlingtonWrightstown Boro19811995
CamdenBerlin Boro19931971
CamdenBerlin Twp19911971
CamdenBrooklawn Boro19911971
CamdenCamden City19921971
CamdenCherry Hill Twp19931971
CamdenClementon Boro19911971
CamdenGloucester City19941971
CamdenHaddon Twp19931971
CamdenHi-nella Boro19851997
CamdenLaurel Springs Boro19841993
CamdenLawnside Boro19980000
CamdenLindenwold Boro19971973
CamdenMagnolia Boro19931971
CamdenMerchantville Boro19941971
CamdenMount Ephraim Boro19971971
CamdenOaklyn Boro19901971
CamdenPennsauken Twp19971971
CamdenRunnemede Boro19901971
CamdenStratford Boro19901971
CamdenWaterford Twp19961971
CamdenWinslow Twp19951971
CamdenWoodlynne Boro19742000
CumberlandBridgeton City19931976
CumberlandShiloh Boro19971978
CumberlandStow Creek Twp20001971
CumberlandUpper Deerfield Twp19961971
CumberlandVineland City19871990
EssexWest Caldwell Twp19881994
EssexWest Orange Twp19841963
GloucesterClayton Boro19941971
GloucesterDeptford Twp19951975
GloucesterEast Greenwich Twp19941971
GloucesterFranklin Twp19991971
GloucesterGlassboro Boro19901971
GloucesterGreenwich Twp19931988
GloucesterLogan Twp19891994
GloucesterMantua Twp19951971
GloucesterNational Park Boro19941971
GloucesterPaulsboro Boro19991971
GloucesterPitman Boro19911971
GloucesterSwedesboro Boro19931971
GloucesterWashington Twp19901971
GloucesterWest Deptford Township19941962
GloucesterWestville Boro19971971
GloucesterWoodbury City19931971
GloucesterWoolwich Twp19901971
HudsonBayonne City19911970
HudsonEast Newark Boro19861976
HudsonGuttenburg Town19961985
HudsonHarrison Town19880000
HudsonHoboken City19881986
HudsonJersey City19881970
HudsonKearny Town19850000
HudsonNorth Bergen Twp19920000
HudsonSecaucus Town19891991
HudsonUnion City19921960
HudsonWeehawken Twp19910000
HudsonWest New York Town19910000
MercerEwing Twp19931972
MercerHamilton Twp19991972
MercerLawrence Twp19941972
MercerTrenton City19921972
MiddlesexCarteret Boro19981973
MiddlesexDunellen Boro19771982
MiddlesexEast Brunswick Twp19831973
MiddlesexEdison Twp19831988
MiddlesexHighland Park Boro19901991
MiddlesexJamesburg Boro19961986
MiddlesexMetuchen Boro19831993
MiddlesexMiddlesex Boro19861973
MiddlesexMilltown Boro19801997
MiddlesexMonroe Twp19931973
MiddlesexNew Brunswick City19911989
MiddlesexNorth Brunswick Twp19851999
MiddlesexOld Bridge Twp19721990
MiddlesexPiscataway Twp19751987
MiddlesexSayerville Boro19931980
MiddlesexSouth Brunswick Twp19741989
MiddlesexSouth Plainfield Boro19861973
MiddlesexSouth River Boro19861973
MiddlesexWoodbridge Twp19861973
MonmouthAllentown Boro19991976
MorrisHanover Twp19981972
MorrisMadison Boro20001972
MorrisMontville Twp19991972
MorrisRandolph Twp20001972
MorrisRoxbury Twp20001972
OceanBrick Twp19921967
PassaicBloomingdale Boro19891964
PassaicClifton City19911964
PassaicHaledon Boro19871970
PassaicHawthorne Boro19891972
PassaicNorth Haledon Boro19861964
PassaicPassaic City19921964
PassaicPompton Lakes Boro19931970
PassaicProspect Park Boro19571988
PassaicWanaque Boro19891993
PassaicWayne Twp19921964
PassaicWest Milford Twp19881964
PassaicWoodland Park Boro19931966
SomersetRocky Hill Boro19821997
SomersetSomerville Boro20001965
SussexAndover Boro19901965
SussexHampton Twp19901965
SussexMontague Twp19911998
SussexStillwater Twp19831991
SussexSussex Boro19991965
SussexWalpack Twp19611987
UnionBerkleley Heights Twp19991972
UnionClark Twp19851972
UnionCranford Twp19881991
UnionElizabeth City19761972
UnionFanwood Boro19831965
UnionGarwood Boro19851972
UnionHillside Twp19981972
UnionKenilworth Boro19881972
UnionLinden City19891972
UnionMountainside Boro19841965
UnionNew Providence Boro19981972
UnionPlainfield City19921972
UnionRahwah City19891991
UnionRoselle Boro19891972
UnionRoselle Park Boro19731984
UnionScotch Plains Twp19841968
UnionSpringfield Twp19861972
UnionSummit City19941972
UnionUnion Twp19751972
UnionWestfield Town19821986
UnionWinfield TwpNA1972
WarrenBelvidere Town19892000