Property Taxes

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Offline Oratam_Weaping

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #45 on: August 20, 2011, 01:29:13 PM »
Bergen county and Hackensack in Particulatr is paying more per dollar for taxes than most other towns. Hackensack recieves on .74 cents on the dollar for it's school taxes through redistribution, while Asbury Park gets 24.72 for every tax payer dollar.

Offline hackensack_newbie

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #46 on: August 21, 2011, 09:32:43 PM »
Why is Hackensack paying more per dollar? We are home to all these businesses plus we are the county seat. You'd think we'd get a break because of this. I have friends in other areas of Bergen that pay less taxes than me, yet they have larger homes, lot sizes, and better ranking school systems.

Offline Oratam_Weaping

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #47 on: August 22, 2011, 06:45:58 PM »
There is another reason. Social services along with the resource drain; unsightly presence due to lack of order, is only part of it; albeit a BIG part, perhaps the BIGGEST). Loss of tax ratables by county and hospital parcels should be offset by the thousands of workers and visitors brought into Hackensack; bringing commerce into Hackensack; but that unfortunately, is NOT the case. People come to work and go home, even on the holidays and, this was still the case when Main Street still had a variety of quality establishments. They shop in Paramus. When Hackensack had a chance for recovery and redevelopment our school taxes and the influx of Homeless made it all very difficult. Is it by coincidence that from 1989 till 1992 the amount of Homeless and released  prisoners made operating  businesses, and renting apartments almost impossible, was it only the economic slowdown? CSPNJ began operation in 1988 at the same time the countyb operated a traier park across the street from what would become Price Club. And that is when I observed the numbers growing well into 2005. More recently the new Homeless shelter helped somewhat, but that is about to change as more homeless are placed on their own under the politically correct veil of the few Members who are visible and deserving help at CSPNJ. And certainly Bergen County services are not making things better by their wasteful mismanagement.

We cannot afford to do what should be done because of the stigma caused by county services and our school tax dollars going to other municipalities in other counties.  Hackensack only receives about 70 cents per dollar it pays in school taxes. By legislation (ashamed to say imposed by Democrats) School taxes are bundled by the state, redistributed; to be put to waste in places like Asbury park where avg teacher salary is about 55,000. and Janitors make 100,000. and there are more administrators taking high 5 and even up to 6 figures, and more admins than needed to run the system, Asbury Park receives over 24 dollars per every tax dollar paid by residents. 30 cents of every tax dollar you are paying, and even a portion of the rent tenants pay which go to owners to pay tax go to other school districts in the state. Who monitors spending, bids, nessessity, and inventory in these other districts?
« Last Edit: August 22, 2011, 08:57:26 PM by Oratam_Weaping »

Offline irons35

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #48 on: August 22, 2011, 10:52:20 PM »
you want to be disgusted, take a look at the amount of school aid that Garfield gets from the state... 

Offline just watching

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #49 on: August 23, 2011, 06:08:41 AM »
It's the cities and towns that are dominated by old houses converted into 2, 3, and 4 family houses that are the biggest economic drain on the taxpayers.  For instance, Asbury Park, Garfield, Paterson, Irvington, etc.  Ironically, this is the type of house owned by Mr. Oratam, although his house in particular might not be putting many children into the public school system.

But if you take 100 of these houses, look at the amount of tax revenue that these houses contribute to their respective municipalities, and then look at the amount of school costs they generate, you'll see that these are negative ratables.  The term negative ratable means that the costs generated to the municipality far exceed the tax revenue.  Other negative ratables typically include old apartment buildings built before WWII with no parking and dangling fire escapes. And of course the ultimate negative ratable is a public housing complex because it doesn't even pay taxes at all.

Hackensack would be smart to change it's zoning so that future construction would not include negative ratables, or conversion of houses into negative ratables. 

Back in 2005 I proposed to Hackensack to change the R1 and R1A zoning designations to R50, R60, R75, and R100. I worked with a few key city officials on this; they know who they are. This change was accepted, and it is now part of the zoning code. What didn't make it was my proposed R40 zone. Jack Zisa in particular didn't want it. I wanted to eliminate the R2 zone (two family houses) as we know it.  In it's place, R40 would allow a single family house on a 40-foot wide lot and a two-family house on a 50-foot wide lot. However, the only type of two-family allowed would be a side-by-side duplex typically of new construction.  Units on top of each other (what's called a Bayonne box or six-over-six) or conversions of single-family houses into two-family would not be allowed.  R40 would have also increased the allowed lot coverage from 30% to 38.5% (if I remember correctly). This is needed because 30% currently on the books only allows a 1500 sf footprint for a duplex, meaning 750 for each unit footprint. That's not enough to make a high-quality economically viable unit in which the second floor should have a 400 sf master bedroom suite (bedroom, closets, master bath), in addition to two other bedrooms, the stairs, one other bathroom, and of course the interior walls and closets. 750 is just too tight.  That's why the builders are discouraged from Hackensack or always ask for variances on this. Without new construction to replace the aging old houses, the future of the First Ward is grim. Hackensack can't continue with a zoning code that does nothing but allow for the economic backsliding and very little new construction.

Note also that it is very easy to build a single family house on a 40-foot wide lot, with 10-foot side yard setbacks.  That leaves adequate space between houses for quality living, and you can still have a great floor plan with 20 feet x 60 feet to work with. The crowding together of houses in poor cities with 3 feet side yard setbacks or less really destroys the quality of life. Either make townhouses with zero side yard or have at least 7 feet side yards.  None of these houses cramped together, with windows facing alleyways and the sides of other houses.

I think I still have the file saved on my computer.  If anyone wants a copy of the proposal, provide your email.

Offline Oratam_Weaping

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #50 on: August 23, 2011, 10:24:57 AM »
It's the cities and towns that are dominated by old houses converted into 2, 3, and 4 family houses that are the biggest economic drain on the taxpayers.  For instance, Asbury Park, Garfield, Paterson, Irvington, etc.  Ironically, this is the type of house owned by Mr. Oratam, although his house in particular might not be putting many children into the public school system.

But if you take 100 of these houses, look at the amount of tax revenue that these houses contribute to their respective municipalities, and then look at the amount of school costs they generate, you'll see that these are negative ratables.  The term negative ratable means that the costs generated to the municipality far exceed the tax revenue.  Other negative ratables typically include old apartment buildings built before WWII with no parking and dangling fire escapes. And of course the ultimate negative ratable is a public housing complex because it doesn't even pay taxes at all.

Hackensack would be smart to change it's zoning so that future construction would not include negative ratables, or conversion of houses into negative ratables. 

Any dwelling 2 families and over IS rated at a higher rate, and to rate them any higher would cause an economic and real estate blight that have never been imagined. When a house is converted it already goes to the tax assessor, and the building permits pay that department. So long as the existing zoning allows and our construction officials maintain the excellent job of inspection, and discovery of illegal conversions we are safe. The more kids the more Main Street will become a convenience. High and mid rise apartments are more of a bargain in [property taxes. Would you ask that the realtors should only give leases to occupants with one or less child? That is unlawful. The intent of this zoning plan is unconstitutional and against state law and civil law.  It would be just as irresponsible to demand that all  minorities leave Hackensack, because that is what Mr. Just Watching is saying. As for mr. Oratam_weaping's property is is commercial and houses no families with children, and the interior houses 4 luxury apartments (Despite the outside look) single occupants. My choice as a person who hopes to complete the exterior renovations to match the quality interior. If only the taxes were affordable.

No sir. The drain on the tax base is the negative ratables by non-tax paying entities; and a school budget that lacks fiscal responsibility, and NJEA influence which all but encourages less from teachers while paying more teachers, more money.  That 30% higher school budget could easily become a tax freeze while not touching the school budget. There is a bill proposed in the New Jersey Legislature to end this unfair distribution.

However, to have the city raise taxes of 2 and four family houses would not gentrify Hackensack as you clearly imagine, it would turn it into a ghost town; and cause the firing of 20% of teachers; reduce the only traffic we have on Main Street and inhibit economic recovery, and ethnic diversity.

Offline just watching

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #51 on: August 24, 2011, 12:49:09 AM »
I'm not suggesting at all that taxes be raised for 2, 3, and 4 family taxes. Read my post again. If people want to disagree with me, that's fine, but disagree with what I am actually saying and not something spun by somebody else.

I'm saying that if you took 100 of them, or 1000 of them, and looked at the costs they generate (schools, social services, even intangible things like more burden to police and fire) you would see that, BY FAR, they generate more costs than their collective tax revenue.

Of course there are excellent landlords such as yourself that keep your units in good condition. In fact, if every owner was like you there wouldn't be such a problem.  But the average person is not so responsible in our society.  Sad commentary.  In fact, as these houses get even older, more and more become owned by landlords who live elsewhere and barely take care of them.

How do I know this --- let's just say I work in the industry and have seen and been inside hundreds if not thousands of them. I can look at a house from the street and draw a detailed floor plan, even showing where the closets are, without walking inside.

My suggestion is that zoning codes are changed so that more of them aren't built, or aren't allowed as conversions.  This is what is needed to be responsible to the taxpayer.  In most urban centers in New Jersey, the only successful neighborhoods are (a) historic districts with intense codes and regulations, and (b) neighborhoods being redeveloped.  Hackensack was once a classic suburb, but we are now an urban center.  And like other urban centers (Newark, Paterson, Passaic being good examples), there are "preserved" neighborhoods towards the edges of the city that are suburban in quality, but the bulk of the housing stock is large apartments and older urban neighborhoods.  We are not as bad as those cities because our older urban neighborhoods are much smaller and don't dominate the city as much. Instead we are dominated by Prospect Ave, which the other cities I mentioned have no equivalent.

Offline Oratam_Weaping

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #52 on: August 24, 2011, 11:52:25 AM »
FYI - When you are talking about the property Oratam_Weaping RENTS (I do not own this property, it is owned by a corporation, and the shares are owned in trust by a Nationally acclaimed non-profit educational foundation) I just live here (I like it here-I like my neighbors) and manage the property. I understand that part of the trust also belongs to William Paterson University's Music Dept.  Although the foundation is capable of purchasing adjacent properties: Unfortunately; because of the condition of Fair Street, the facility that could be here, may be moved by 1031 exchng to Rutherford. Any host school system would have a free school of musical arts k - 12 complete with scholarship abilities for WPU. Other towns, or individuals outside host town would pay a fee to the foundation. It's out of my hands, except for when I decide to move my residence, the corporation will consider the move as I will be a resident director of instrumental music. It's what I do best.

I understood your point. Illegal conversion is the difficult problem, as is overcrowding. I agree that some suburban zones should not allow conversions, but I feel they are already protected by the application process; except that notification for variance should be over a 1000 foot radius to owners 30 days prior to hearing. Still, more and more owners are sharing their homes by renting part of their single family home as an apartment, and renting rooms, and this is an economic problem beyond the scope of local government, and done without much modification or modified in secret. If you own a house (or rent an apartment) and want to share it with another family, it is up to the owner (and the lease) if you can, unless the health or building department can make a valid legal issue. Unfortunately there are people who live in other towns not covered by Hackensack, use a Hackensack address that is already occupied (as a supposed share) and drive their kids to a Hackensack School. This should be a matter of a fraud violation with a 10,000 per year fine and up to two years imprisonment for the parents or guardians and the owner AND renter of the apartment, as a deterrent.

Unlawful conversion is when an owner creates a rooming house, and/or separate apartments by way of modifications, usually without permits. Our building department  and construction codes regulates that. New legal conversions are not easy applications, must be to code, and do increase the assessment, and therefore the tax paid.

I feel that the building of new 2  to 8 unit condos should be encouraged in carefully designated less historic, less quality areas (for improvement) and it invites more population while creating additional ratables, but the conversions should require architectural  planning, which guarantees an exterior that is aimed at improving the look as well as the future motif of the area.. Conversions in those areas should do the same.

All in all, suggesting in any way there should be zoning or planning that limits the number of children because of a drain of the school system is not a good idea.  The South ward would benefir by new construction of mul;ti-unit dwellings that include ample parking, but NON conversions because the old wood frames are not suitable. The old mansions WERE suitable.

If there was a unified flat budget per student across the state, and equal distribution; a uniform code of what a school administration, and services consists of; allotted materials, tighter constraints; and, no corruption in the construction and renovation projects; as well as restriction on the control and influence of the union, we would see a 35% decrease in school taxes statewide.

« Last Edit: August 25, 2011, 08:46:07 AM by Oratam_Weaping »

Offline hackensack_newbie

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #53 on: September 13, 2011, 09:45:36 AM »
So I still can't get over Hackensack's recent tax rate increase, and either folks aren't aware, just don't care, or simply accept it. I haven't found much online either except for the story below. Seems like all the focus was on the citywide reassessment, but I think that was more of a distraction. In speaking to my neighbors, I learned that their property tax bill also increased. They hadn't even looked at their tax rate. I wonder if the county or even the state monitors local property tax rates. This is probably one of the reasons NJ has the highest property taxes in the country -- the proper monitoring and controls are simply not in place.


http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/mar2011/bw20110318_558174.htm

Real Estate March 22, 2011, 6:45PM EST
Property Taxes Reach the Breaking Point
Local governments are raising property taxes to plug budget gaps as home values fall—and voters are getting sick of it

By Venessa Wong

It really costs to own a home these days. Not only have home values fallen, leaving nearly one-quarter of residential mortgages under water, but also, local governments around the country have increased property taxes to make up for declining revenue from other sources.

Homeowners now give a slightly bigger portion of their earnings to property taxes—which mainly go to public schools, with the rest going to government operations and other public services—than before the recession. The Tax Foundation, a Washington (D.C.) research organization that advocates for lower taxes, estimates that 3.5 percent of household income went to property taxes in 2009, compared with 2.9 percent in 2005. The median property taxes paid on homes increased to $1,917 in 2009 from $1,614 in 2005.

How much is too much? In Miami-Dade County, taxpayers have had enough. Angered by a property tax hike amid plunging real estate values, as well as a pay raise to county employees and a new $600 million stadium for the Florida Marlins, 88 percent of 204,500 people voted to oust Mayor Carlos Alvarez in a recall election on Mar. 15.

Miami-Dade residents pay the most property tax in Florida: a median $2,600 per year, according to the Tax Foundation, citing the average median real estate taxes paid annually from 2005 to 2009 in U.S. Census Bureau reports. Last year, Mayor Alvarez pushed for a 14 percent property tax rate increase to help fill a $444 million budget hole.

"It's not proper to increase taxes by $178 million [in] this community—while over 50 percent or close to 50 percent of [homeowners] here owe more money than their homes are worth," Norman Braman, the billionaire car dealer who led the recall effort, told reporters.
Stable Source of Revenue

Property taxes grew significantly in the recession, according to the Tax Foundation. Nationwide, state and local revenue from property taxes totaled nearly $474.2 billion in the 12 months ended September 2010, according to U.S. Census Bureau data, up 38.8 percent from the same period in fiscal 2005. Corporate net income tax fell 10.3 percent in the same 2010 period, while total state and local tax revenue rose 15.7 percent.

"Property taxes tend to be the more stable revenue source," says Mark Robyn, an economist at the Tax Foundation. Local governments "can set their rate every year. Property tax policy is very flexible for local governments."

New Jersey residents pay the most residential property tax in the U.S.: an average $7,576 last year, up 78.7 percent from 1999, according to data from the state's Department of Community Affairs. Homeowners in Millburn Township paid an average $19,441, the most among major towns in the state.

Among the more than 3,100 counties in the U.S., Hunterdon County, N.J., had the highest median real estate taxes per year— $8,216—from 2005 to 2009, according to a Tax Foundation report. Other counties with high taxes in the five-year period: Nassau County, N.Y., where homeowners paid $8,206, and Westchester County, N.Y., where median property taxes on homes were $8,160. (One-year data show Hunterdon ranked fourth in 2009, after Westchester County, Nassau County, and New Jersey's Bergen County.)

Upset voters in various parts of country have resisted the recent tax hikes—though not always with the same result as in Miami. In Chattanooga, Mayor Ron Littlefield's push for a 19 percent property tax increase sparked a recall effort by the Chattanooga Tea Party and other groups, which failed in 2010. Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle has raised property taxes a total of 15 percent, also leading to a recall election this past January that failed to remove him from office. In Jersey City, the municipal tax rate has increased 84 percent since 2005, but efforts to recall Mayor Jerramiah Healy fell through in February.

Last year, New Jersey lawmakers capped property tax increases by local governments at 2 percent.
Schools Seek More Funding

About half of property tax revenue goes to public elementary and secondary schools, according to the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, a think tank in Cambridge, Mass. Public elementary and secondary schools get about 43.5 percent of revenue from local and intermediate sources. State sources provide 48.3 percent, and the remaining 8.2 percent comes from federal sources, according to National Center for Education Statistics 2007 to 2008 estimates.

"From a political standpoint, pressure to provide adequate funding of schools and pressure to provide property tax relief are often intertwined," states a report by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. "Taxpayers who want to see reductions in their property tax liabilities sometimes press state government for particular school finance restructuring measures."

While residents battle tax hikes, some school boards say avoiding increases will lead to job losses. In Georgia, Chickamauga city councilmen voted for a 17 percent property tax increase in October to generate about $200,000 for schools. In South Portland, Me., the South Portland School Dept. proposed a budget that increases taxes to avoid losing 21 full time positions (including two teaching jobs) next year. In Austin, Tex., the teachers union is discussing a tax increase because the Austin Independent School District may cut $94 million from its budget.

As state-level funding fell around the country, many school districts relied on money from the $100 billion federal stimulus in 2009 as well as increased property tax revenue. Yet with most of the stimulus used up now and many taxpayers reluctant to accept more tax increases, schools may have to adjust to a lower level of spending.

"This might be a longer-term situation where there will be more control on school spending," says Eric Hanushek, Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

Unfortunately for schools in need of funds, until the real estate market recovers some value and the economy improves, homeowners may continue to fight back against city hall.

Click here to see which county in each state pays the most property tax.

Wong is a lifestyle and real estate reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek.

Offline hackensack_newbie

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #54 on: October 25, 2011, 04:26:53 PM »
I just came across this article on NY's efforts to reign in property taxes by establishing a 2% cap. It amazes me how some towns are fighting the cap. Why is that town officials just love to spend taxpayer money? I understand that there are necessary expenditures, but I refuse to believe that costs can't be cut. I've cut my own costs by sticking to the necessities. Tough times call for tough measures, but I guess when it's someone else's money, spending it becomes quite easy.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/25/nyregion/cuomo-cap-on-property-taxes-rankles-communities.html

October 24, 2011
Upset at Cuomo’s Property-Tax Cap, Communities Move to Get Around It
By THOMAS KAPLAN

A much-heralded cap on property taxes championed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is encountering resistance as some communities across New York chafe at what amounts to a restriction on their spending and seek to exempt themselves from the new limits.

The communities, which include affluent New York City suburbs and rural communities near the border with Canada, are declaring that they cannot restrain the growth of property taxes and still comply with a variety of state-mandated programs and provide the services residents expect. And now dozens of town and county boards are overriding, or proposing to override, the cap.

“We should be able to dictate our own financial future,” said Lee V. A. Roberts, the supervisor in the Westchester County town of Bedford, where the Town Board has already voted to grant itself a waiver from the cap.

The Legislature approved the tax cap in late June, an effort to limit the annual growth of local property taxes to 2 percent or the rate of inflation. After that measure passed, Mr. Cuomo vowed that it would “provide much-needed relief” from rising taxes, and he was so proud of the law that he signed it six times, once in his office and five times on the front lawns of houses in high-tax communities.

It remains too early to determine exactly the impact the cap will have: New York State has more than 10,000 taxing entities, with varied processes and different calendars for determining their tax rates. Most school districts, which are responsible for the largest part of homeowners’ tax bills, will not confront the cap issue until the spring.

The law allows taxing jurisdictions to grant themselves waivers with the approval of 60 percent of the members of whatever body approves local spending — a town board, a county legislature or, in the case of most school districts, the residents themselves. And there are multiple early signs that the cap is not keeping tax increases down for all New Yorkers.

Gregory J. Edwards, the county executive of Chautauqua and the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor last year, wrote in a letter to residents this month that the cap was a “scam” pushed by politicians in Albany. He has asked county legislators to approve a tax increase of nearly 13 percent, which he wrote was entirely attributable to increases in state-mandated costs.

“The 2 percent property-tax cap is nothing more than a campaign slogan meant to get them re-elected and give local leaders the pain for their failure to act,” Mr. Edwards wrote in his letter, referring to Albany lawmakers.

Chautauqua is among several counties considering budgets that call for property-tax increases several times the 2 percent limit, saying the cost of providing services mandated by the state, like Medicaid and welfare programs, is rising faster than that. Albany County, home to the Executive Mansion, has called for a 19 percent tax increase, while Franklin County has asked for a 13 percent increase.

The Association of Towns of the State of New York estimated that, based on historical budgeting data, about a third of New York’s 932 towns might also consider overriding the cap. Some towns said they needed faster property-tax increases to pay for important capital projects; others cited a need to finance their share of the rebuilding after Tropical Storms Irene and Lee.

“There is a great deal of frustration,” said Peter A. Baynes, the executive director of the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials. “They want to make it work, but they’re struggling to make the numbers add up.”

At a meeting this month of the Board of Supervisors for Ontario County, when one town supervisor asked which of his counterparts was seeking to override the cap, nearly all of them raised their hands.

“I wasn’t surprised,” said Theodore M. Fafinski, the board’s chairman and the supervisor in the Town of Farmington. “My comment to many of the legislators when I talk to them is — and I pull no punches — ‘What in the world were you thinking when you passed this?’ ”

Each passing day seems to bring a new act of legislative rebellion. In just one week this month, on Monday, the Town Board in Hammond, in the Thousand Islands region, voted to override the cap; on Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors in Seneca County introduced a measure to do the same thing; on Wednesday, town officials in Massena, in St. Lawrence County, passed their own override; and on Thursday, the Town Board in Harrietstown, in the Adirondacks, followed suit.

In Bedford, a wealthy town of 17,000 where Mr. Cuomo once owned a home, town officials said a $22 million bond offering for a new water filtration plant forced their hand when it came to overriding the cap. Ms. Roberts, the supervisor, expressed frustration with what she characterized as state officials’ butting into municipal business.

“They have no idea about any particular town or city or village’s budget or their needs or the sentiment of the local municipality,” she said.

Of Mr. Cuomo and the cap, she added: “I know that the average citizen probably welcomes it and thinks it’s wonderful and he’s done a great service to the community. But I think it’s tone-deaf. I think it’s disingenuous.”

Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat elected last year, has made reining in property taxes a priority. He professes to be unfazed by the response to the cap, saying that local officials are free to do as they want, and that votes to override the cap should not be taken as rebukes to his administration.

“We passed a law that establishes a 2 percent cap — or whatever the people want,” the governor said at a news conference this month. “We have never dictated to anyone what the taxes should be.”

But Mr. Cuomo is now emphasizing the cap’s symbolic value, saying “this mentality of automatic pilot, where the property taxes just keep going up 5, 6, 7 percent every year,” will no longer be tolerated by New Yorkers. Indeed, in some communities, residents have chastised their local officials for not sufficiently embracing his push to keep taxes down.

“What you’re seeing this year, which you didn’t see in years past: there is much more attention and discussion about the increases in the property tax,” Mr. Cuomo said. “That is a great accomplishment and a great positive.”

Supporters of the cap say that making any judgments about it now is premature. Mr. Cuomo’s advisers said that they believed only about 20 percent of the budgets proposed so far by local governments would require an override of the cap, and that the bulk of those spending plans called for property-tax increases lower than what had been imposed in recent years.

On an Albany radio program this month, the State Senate majority leader, Dean G. Skelos, a Long Island Republican, noted that most communities in Nassau and Suffolk Counties were drawing up budgets that complied with the cap. “It’s forcing a discipline that I think has been absolutely necessary,” Mr. Skelos said.

Offline hackensack_newbie

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #55 on: November 16, 2011, 09:52:06 AM »
This one is a must read. Art Carlson, former tax assessor for Edgewater, gave property tax breaks to a multi-billion-dollar corporation. And he's Hackensack's tax assessor? Nice. No wonder I feel like I'm getting screwed. I especially love this quote:

"If you've ever suspected that not all property taxpayers are treated equally, here's your evidence," Comptroller Matthew Boxer said.



http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/8ce4937523b64a3fab4a77b9ac4bb6ac/NJ--Tax-Breaks/


November 15, 2011
Audit: Condo developer found property tax breaks were his for the asking
ANGELA DELLI SANTI  Associated Press


TRENTON, N.J. — A northern New Jersey developer was granted property tax reductions on more than 100 condominiums, costing residents nearly half-a-million dollars and exposing a potentially huge flaw in how municipal reassessments are granted statewide, a new comptroller's report found.

The report, released Tuesday, shows that the condominium developer secured lower tax assessments in 2008 and 2009 simply because his lawyer asked. Individual condo owners in the same complex who appealed their assessments didn't get as good a deal.

"If you've ever suspected that not all property taxpayers are treated equally, here's your evidence," Comptroller Matthew Boxer said.

Boxer said the investigation into assessments in Edgewater Borough in Bergen County raises broad concerns that municipal tax assessors can alter property tax liabilities without oversight or documentation.

    Tax assessor Arthur Carlson told investigators he wrongly believed the developer faced bankruptcy.

The Edgewater assessor granted a wealthy developer's request to reduce his tax burden without determining that a reduction was needed. The assessor, Arthur Carlson, told investigators he believed, wrongly, the developer faced bankruptcy. The developer is, in fact, a wholly owned subsidiary of a multi-billion-dollar corporation headquartered in Bahrain.

Carlson, who is no longer the borough's tax assessor, faces no criminal charges. The assessor's office did not return a telephone message for comment.

The audit found that the assessor reduced the assessed value of 50 developer-owned condo units by 20 percent in 2008. A private condo owner who appealed her property tax assessment that year received no reduction even though her unit was assessed at the same amount as the developer-owned units.

In 2009, the audit showed that 49 unsold developer-owned units that had been reduced in valuation the year before received an additional 45 percent reduction. An additional 79 developer-owned units saw a reduction in assessment of 45 to 48 percent, the audit found.

The report showed the 2009 reductions were based on a single phone call from the developer's lawyer. The assessor told investigators he performed calculations in his head during the call to come up with the reduction amount, which was based on a sinking real estate market and continued fears that the developer would go bankrupt.

The comptroller's office has recommended changes to promote parity in assessments. It suggests that tax assessors be required to file annual reports listing all municipal assessments that have been adjusted by 20 percent or more in the prior year, along with written justification for the change. It also suggests that the Division of Taxation identify properties that may be under assessed relative to similarly situated units.

Offline hackensack_newbie

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #56 on: November 16, 2011, 01:58:35 PM »
Here's another article on Carlson...

http://www.northjersey.com/topstories/edgewater/State_investigation_Edgewater_tax_assessor_gave_inappropriate_breaks_to_developer.html

Edgewater tax assessor gave inappropriate breaks to developer, according to state investigation
Tuesday, November 15, 2011    Last updated: Tuesday November 15, 2011, 6:32 PM
BY LINH TAT
STAFF WRITER
The Record
Read the report (PDF)

EDGEWATER – The borough’s former tax assessor played favoritism when he gave one developer nearly half a million dollars in tax breaks, the Office of the State Comptroller announced Tuesday.

Arthur Carlson, the assessor, lowered the tax assessment of developer Edgewater Promenade 123’s unsold units at the Peninsula, a luxury condominium complex at City Place, according to an OSC report. The reductions saved the developer more than $472,500 – about triple the savings granted to other homeowners in the same building – during the 2008-09 years, the audit found.
Recommendations

An audit by the Office of the State Comptroller found that the Edgewater tax assessor reduced the assessments for hundreds of condominium units owned by a private developer, but did not give the same treatment to individual homeowners in the same complex. The comptroller’s office recommends that:

    Tax assessors submit annual reports listing any assessments that have been adjusted by 20 percent or more, with written justification for each decision and documents of negotiated settlements.

    The state Division of Taxation develop a system to identify properties owned by a single entity that appear under-assessed.

Appeals by individual homeowners in the same complex for lower assessments during those years were denied, or the reductions given were significantly lower.

“If you’ve ever suspected that not all property taxpayers are treated equally, here’s your evidence,” Comptroller Matthew Boxer said in a prepared statement. “The Edgewater tax assessor … handed improper tax reductions to a wealthy developer that were denied to other residents. In the end, the taxpayers of Edgewater and Bergen County were left to pick up the tab.”

In response to the OSC findings, Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, D-Paramus and Sen. Bob Gordon, D-Fair Lawn, announced their support of legislative reforms.

“This report makes clear that the system can easily be manipulated without anyone noticing,” Wagner said.

Carlson, meanwhile, said the OSC findings are “totally off base.”

“My actions are defensible,” he said hours after the report’s release. While the comptroller’s office is calling Carlson’s actions “inappropriate,” he is not facing criminal charges.

A tax assessor since 1989, Carlson worked in Edgewater from 2007 until June of this year, when he resigned, he said, because borough officials wanted to renew his contract without granting him tenure. He remains the assessor in Hackensack, Saddle Brook and Ridgefield Park.

According to the OSC report, in 2008, Carlson lowered by 20 percent the assessed value of 50 of the developer’s unsold condominium units, with no documents to justify his decision.

The following year, he reduced the value of the remaining unsold units by another 45 percent and lowered the assessed value of an additional 79 units by 45 to 48 percent, the report stated. Again, he did not provide justifying documents and simply noted the lower assessments in the annual list submitted to the county tax board, according to the OSC.

Carlson on Tuesday refuted claims that he did not provide adequate documents. Additionally, he said, the way he chose to assess the properties is standard practice among assessors in the state during times of a recession.

“I stand by everything I did,” he said, adding that he did not receive money or any perks from the developer for his actions.

Assessors can calculate a property’s value using one of three approaches, including a “sales approach,” in which a unit is valued based on comparisons with similar properties, and an “income approach,” based on a property’s expected future earnings.

Carlson calculated the developer’s units based on the income approach while assessing the other properties using the sales approach, according to the OSC report.

Offline hackensack_newbie

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #57 on: November 16, 2011, 02:03:32 PM »
Here's the report referenced in the previous two articles....

Offline hackensack_newbie

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #58 on: January 03, 2012, 09:20:31 PM »
Clearly there are some municipalities that were able to comply with the State's mandatory 2% property tax levy cap. Hackensack is on the right track with shared services, but clearly this is not enough as many homeowners saw a much greater increase in their 2011-12 tax bill. I hope Hackensack officials are studying the results of this survey...


http://www.njslom.org/press-releases/pr-survey.html

December 28, 2011
Trenton, NJ

Mayors Respond to 13th Annual League Survey

For the 13th consecutive year, over one hundred mayors offered their views on several major policy areas in response to the League’s Annual Legislative Priority Survey.  Their responses to specific issues provide direction and will assist the League Executive Board and staff during what could be a critical year for municipalities and property taxpayers.

2011 was the first budget year that municipal leaders had to comply with the 2% property tax levy cap. One year later what have learned?

29% of the Mayors indicated their municipality’s final total levy increased 2%, with the exclusions for debt services, capital expenditures, pension cost, health benefit cost and declared emergencies.  While 19.35% saw tax levy increases of between 1.5 and 1.99%, over last year’s level.   Followed by 18% whose tax levy increase was under 1%.

When asked what action(s) they took to meet the 2% cap the Mayors ranked them as follows:

   
  • Shared Services
  • Used a higher percentage of surplus than in previous years
  • Increased Health Care contribution from employees
  • Deferred Capital Improvements
  • Concessions from Employees
  • Increased Fees
  • Reduced staff from Full-time to Part-time
  • Reduced appropriation to the capital improvement fund
  • Reduced Services (tie)
  • Lay-offs (tie)
  • Furloughs (tie)
  • One-time revenue (i.e. sale of public property) (tie)
  • Initiated Accelerated Tax Sale

Municipalities are continuing to see an increase in tax appeals.  66% of the Mayors saw an increase in their residential tax appeals in 2011.  Of those, 63% noted that the results of the tax appeals will impact their available surplus in their 2012 budget.  However, 71% noted that they do not plan on increasing their budget in regards to fighting tax appeals in 2012.

Another impact on municipal budgets is the cost associated with defending a municipality’s compliance with the Open Public Records Act (OPRA).  Only 15% of the Mayors noted that their municipality had appeared before the Government Records Council or Superior Court regarding OPRA.  Of those municipalities, municipal attorney fees ranged from $1,300 to $10,000.   Only one Mayor reported paying prevailing attorney fees of $6,000.

The survey also indicates a changing trend in how municipalities plan to meet their affordable housing obligations.  Nearly half of the Mayors noted that once a prospective housing obligation is determined their municipality will implement 100% municipal sponsored partnerships with non-profit sponsors housing to address part of their future obligation.   These projects rely heavily on subsidies, and as a result 94% support a legislative change to push the July 2012 deadline established by PL 2008, c. 46, which establishes that a municipality has 4 years to commit their housing trust fund dollars.

Of an interesting note, 59% of the Mayors surveyed support an increase in State motor fuel taxes if and only if the proceeds are to be used to finance the repair and renovation of municipal and county transportation infrastructures.

Offline Editor

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #59 on: March 18, 2012, 06:40:25 PM »
$89.4 million Hackensack municipal budget introduced
Friday, March 16, 2012
BY MARK J. BONAMO
MANAGING EDITOR
Hackensack Chronicle

The Hackensack City Council unveiled an $89.4 million municipal budget for fiscal year 2012 at the March 6 council meeting.

The proposed budget, a figure up from the $88.4 million budget adopted last year, includes a $74.2 million municipal property-tax levy, a 2 percent increase from the $72.7 million property-tax levy included in the budget adopted last year.

Homeowners should expect an increase of $87.55 annually in their municipal property tax bills on average, according to figures provided by the city. The value of an average home in Hackensack remains at $243,200 following a reassessment completed last year. The value of an average home in the city stood at $328,300 before the reassessment was completed, a decrease of just over 25 percent.

The potential tax effect on commercial property owners has yet to be determined according to the proposed budgetary figures released by the city. Last year's adopted budget saw a commercial property owner tax increase, on average, of more than $5,300.

The proposed budgetary figures also do not yet include the finalized effects of potential changes in the Bergen County and Board of Education tax levies.

Resident Kathy Canestrino, a frequent critic of the city's fiscal policies, questioned why the city planned to increase contributions to the workmen's compensation section of the city's self-insurance fund from $500,000 last year to $995,000 this year, a 99 percent increase. The city had an unusual number of workmen's compensation claims filed last year.

"Do we always want to plan on anomalies?" Canestrino said.

"The state would certainly ask a question as to why, but I look at the budget as a big picture," said City Auditor Steven Wielkotz. "You look at the bottom line, spending increases are only a little over 1 percent. Maybe the glitch won't be workmen's compensation this year, but maybe it's going to be in health benefits or someplace else."

Wielkotz noted that despite the challenges Hackensack faces because of national economic woes, state aid cutbacks and the impact of the known city legal bills of nearly $4 million stemming from recent problems regarding Police Department leadership, the city has tried to respond.

"Over the last two years, there have been a tremendous amount of retirements that has reduced the work force by over 50 people," Wielkotz said after the budget was introduced. "The city has challenged department heads to do their jobs with less people."

Contributions to the city's self-insurance fund also increased significantly regarding the general insurance and surety bonds section of the fund. This section, from which funds are taken by the city to deal with the ongoing civil legal cases and depositions related to police department issues, rose to just more than $2 million in this year's proposed budget from $917,500 last year. This rise represents a 120% increase, according to figures provided by the city.

"These numbers should not go any higher - they are right where it's supposed to be based on the criteria of our insurance coverage," said City Manager Stephen Lo Iacono. "This does not account for any awards or judgments [in the civil cases]. That would involve a separate form of financing if it should occur."

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for April 3 at 7 p.m. at City Hall where citizens will have the opportunity to discuss the proposed spending plan.

Email: bonamo@northjersey.com
« Last Edit: March 22, 2012, 11:55:39 AM by Editor »

 

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