At the last scheduled Mayor & Council meeting of 2014 last night, the governing body voted to approve Realty Appraisal Company as the firm to handle the townwide revaluation starting next year for $239,000 – less than half of what was originally budgeted.
One of Mayor Joseph Accardi’s objectives ever since being voted into office in 2010 was spearheaded – in earnest this year – by First Ward Councilman Andrew Casais, who was the Finance Committee Chair. Amid numerous discussions during budget workshops and meetings, the revaluation was unanimously approved by council with a budget of $500,000 that was taken out of surplus and other one-time revenues. Funds totaling over a quarter of a million dollars will be returned to the accounts they were drawn from in order to budget for the revaluation.
Realty Appraisal Company was one of the two state-certified firms that submitted a bid and although it was not the lowest bidder – that firm was around $18,000 less – Councilman Casais explained the reason behind the decision, “Many of the principles of the company reside in Union County . . . They have a [sic] unique understanding of the county and the surrounding area which could significantly help in this process as it is a new process for Roselle Park and for most of the municipalities in Union County because revaluation will need to be done in all of the municipalities whether they like it or not.”
Additionally, the First Ward Councilman stated that Realty Appraisal Company offers a full bi-lingual staff, stating, “That helps with our growing changing demographic. The Hispanic community is growing in Roselle Park and that is something we are looking to face head on.”
Another benefit in the decision was that the firm claims to work primarily in Northern and Central New Jersey. Councilman Casais remarked, “They know what works, what hasn’t worked, what the area is like, what the variables are. . . I think that that is really a huge bonus to have somebody who knows the home turf doing this kind of process.”
Costs associated with subsequent possible tax appeals that might arise after the firm conducts the townwide revaluation was another factor for the councilman. He stated that the rates that Realty Appraisal Company will charge to fight any appeals that arise from the revaluation and go all the way to State Tax Court will be a rate of $90/hour which is $35 less than the competitor quoted. No mention was made if funds for those appeals will be pulled from surplus in the coming years. Appeals handled at the municipal and county level will be handled at no charge as part of the contract.
Councilman Casais ended his comments by re-iterating that public information sessions will be held before the revaluation is started.
The revaluation contract now goes to the State for approval before the process gets underway.