Author Topic: Property Taxes  (Read 49797 times)

Offline hackensack_newbie

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #60 on: March 22, 2012, 08:38:26 AM »
No surprise here. Clearly the city is always going to ask for more money than the previous year. The only option homeowners have to control their tax bill is the appeal process. I've had success in the past when I've appealed, so I'm trying again this year. Last year I didn't bother due to the citywide reassessment. Even if I'm successful in lowering my property's assessment this year, there are no guarantees of maintaining the same property taxes or even lowering them. The city can easily manipulate the tax rate, but it certainly is worth a try.

Offline Editor

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #61 on: March 26, 2012, 09:05:31 AM »
North Jersey homeowners seek lower tax assessments
Sunday, March 25, 2012    Last updated: Sunday March 25, 2012, 9:04 AM
BY KATHLEEN LYNN
STAFF WRITER
The Record

Watching their property taxes rise as the value of their 82-year-old house dropped, Nora and Pat Sfarra of Teaneck decided to appeal their tax assessment last year. With the help of a tax-appeal company, they were able to get their home's assessed value reduced from $351,000, to $310,000, knocking about $1,000 off an $8,000-plus annual tax bill.

"I'm satisfied that I got something off," said Nora Sfarra.

The Sfarras are among the thousands of North Jersey homeowners who have challenged their tax assessments as home values eroded over the past several years. And with the April 2 deadline for filing this year's tax appeals approaching fast, many homeowners are rushing to get their paperwork in.

The wave of appeals is having an impact on town budgets.

"It's creating a major problem for communities up and down the state," said William Dressel, executive director of the state League of Municipalities, which represents towns. "It's reducing the amount of property taxes going into municipal coffers, which has a direct impact on the towns' ability to be able to provide adequate services." The result could be either service cuts or a higher tax rate, he said.

A number of towns have responded to the rise in appeals by conducting town-wide reassessments or revaluations, with the aim of getting valuations in line with actual market values, which makes it harder for homeowners to question their assessments.

And the first thing homeowners need to know is that you can't appeal your tax bill, just your property's assessment.

"A lot of people think if they pay too much in taxes, they have an appeal," said Hackensack lawyer Martin Sharit, who has filed many tax appeals. "But we all pay too much in taxes."

Though home prices in the region have fallen, on average, more than 20 percent since the housing boom, that doesn't mean your tax appeal is a slam dunk. For one thing, towns adjust values using a ratio that reflects the fact that home prices fluctuate with the economy in the years after a revaluation is done. To find your town's ratio, check state.nj.us/treasury/ taxation/lpt/lptvalue.shtml. Divide your assessment by the ratio to get a real picture of how the town values your home.

Teaneck, for example, has a tax ratio of 104 percent meaning that the town already knows that the properties' assessments are greater than their actual value. By that formula, a property assessed at $350,000 may really be valued by the town at only about $336,500.

On top of that, tax assessors get a 15 percent margin in calculating values. So the owner of that property assessed at $350,000 would need to prove in his appeal, using recent comparable sales, that the value of the house is $286,025 or less.

Homeowners who want to appeal their assessments have several choices. They can go it alone, by filing forms found at state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/pdf/other_forms/lpt/petappl.pdf. The form asks for three to five recent comparable sales, which must be recent but before the previous Oct. 1. "Comparable" means homes that are about the same size, on a similar-sized property and with the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

Information on recent sales by town is available at the county boards of taxation. Many homeowners also turn to real estate agents to get that information, and a number of North Jersey agents say they provide it without charge to past clients or people they hope may become clients in the future. Homeowners can increase their chances of success by including photos of their home and comparable homes.

Homeowners also can get help from companies such as EasyTaxFix or ValueAppeal, which offer information on comparable home sales and help filling out the appeal paperwork for $99, in the case of ValueAppeal, or $80, in the case for EasyTaxFix. Both companies have sent letters to a number of North Jersey homeowners this year, making the case that they can do the research more quickly and effectively than homeowners can do themselves. Both offer money-back guarantees if the homeowner's tax appeal fails.

Appraisers also can be hired for tax appeals. Douglas Cowie of Property Research Inc. in Waldwick, for example, charges $375 for an appraisal that can be used in a tax appeal. If you submit an appraisal as part of your tax appeal, the appraiser must be state licensed and must attend the hearing.

And a number of lawyers offer their services, either for a flat fee or a share of the tax savings.

Once the appeal is filed, a hearing is scheduled at each county's tax board. Homeowners have to be prepared to make their case before the board, because by law, the presumption is that the assessment is correct. But in many cases, the town will settle with the homeowner.

That's what happened with the Sfarras, who worked with ValueAppeal.

"Taxes are high in Teaneck, so I said, for $100, it's worth a try," said Nora Sfarra, a dentist's receptionist. "They did most of the work for you and gave you comparables."

Trims bill by $500

Another ValueAppeal client, Nina Vasilyev of Palisades Park, said she appealed her assessment because at 1,300 square feet, her house is smaller than her neighbors' homes. She was able to lower the assessment by $30,000, and her tax bill by more than $500, she said.

Dorothy Monopoli of Hackensack successfully appealed the assessment on her condo in 2010, cutting her assessment from about $275,000 to about $245,000, which sliced her annual taxes by about $700. As a real estate agent, Monopoli was able to research recent sales on her own. She said finding comparable properties in a condo is much easier than finding comparables among single-family homes, because condo units in the same building closely resemble each other.

Hackensack has since conducted a citywide reassessment, bringing assessments closer to actual values. That leaves homeowners less room for appeals, Monopoli said.

Tax appeals aren't just for homeowners worried about their own tax bills. They are also sometimes used by sellers who fear that high taxes will scare off buyers.

Joshua Baris, a Coldwell Banker agent in Fort Lee, offers a recent sale as an example. He listed a North Bergen condo that was assessed at $1.8 million way more than the property could fetch in the current market. That high assessment resulted in a $40,000 annual tax bill.

The seller appealed the assessment and was able to cut the annual tax bill to $17,000. The condo ultimately sold for $700,000, Baris said.

"If the taxes had stayed where they were, I wouldn't have been able to sell that property, even though it was a great value," Baris said.

Email: lynn@northjersey.com

Offline hackensack_newbie

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #62 on: March 26, 2012, 03:17:19 PM »
I would be careful using a service like ValueAppeal. While they give you a list of comps and put together a report, you still have to do most of the work researching those comps and ensuring they are appropriate. I previewed the service and found one of the comps to be a short sale, which is not acceptable as a comp. Also, this service doesn't do a great a job of distinguishing among the different neighborhoods.

My recommendation is to find a real estate agent willing to give you comps for free and save yourself $100. You can of course do this on entirely on your own. Start by figuring out what the city believes your home's market value should be. Simply divide your assessment by the current equalization rate (.8444).

For example, if you're assessed at $100,000, your market value would then be $118,427. Since the town is allowed 15 percent margin, you would need to find comps low enough to exceed this margin. In this example, I would need to find comps that sold for less than $100,662 between 10/1/2010 and 10/1/2011 for this year's appeal.

Of course there are other factors you need to account for such as lot size, living space, proximity to your home, etc. So it's certainly not easy, but not impossible either.

Offline Editor

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #63 on: December 03, 2012, 11:33:55 AM »
Property tax hikes kept in check, but officials warn of looming cuts in services, education
Sunday, December 2, 2012    Last updated: Sunday December 2, 2012, 1:15 PM
BY  DAVE SHEINGOLD
STAFF WRITER
The Record

Tax increases, town by town
 
The annual increase in property taxes long bemoaned by most residents as an inexorable and painful fact of life in New Jersey slowed to a trickle in 2012, a second year of historically low growth in the cost of local government.

In Bergen and Passaic counties, the overall amount demanded of property owners in tax bills that went out this summer and fall grew by less than 2 percent. There were some outliers, but the trend held true in the majority of the regions 86 communities.

Governor Christies office praised the trend, hailing it as a direct result of the 2 percent ceiling on annual tax increases that he proposed and the Legislature enacted in 2010.

The numbers will no doubt play a prominent role in Christies bid for reelection. As a cornerstone of his first term, Christie successfully challenged the notion that the cost of government and most notably, the salaries of unionized public employees was beyond the control of elected officials.

Officials throughout the region said they were able to comply with the law by tapping a mix of budget surpluses, one-time revenues, line-by-line cost-cutting and payroll reductions, all of which eased the burden of taxes that fund municipal and county services as well as public schools for 2012 and into 2013.

But they warn that cuts in academic programs and municipal services loom over the next few years as they run out of other options for holding down increases in tax levies.

It will be very difficult, to say the least to stay under the cap, said Raymond Herr, chief financial officer for Paramus. You cant keep things level forever.

With blunter words, Hawthorne school Superintendent Robert Mooney said: Its not even remotely sustainable.

The trend stretched across North Jersey, from upscale Tenafly, where the tax levy went up 1.9 percent, to the more modest quarters of Lodi, where it rose 1.1 percent. In town after town, increases sought in 2012 paled in comparison to those imposed in the prior decade, according to an analysis by The Record of property tax data for this year.

The results helped keep the increase in the typical residential tax bill to $100 in Bergen, from $9,232 last year to $9,332 this year, and $124 in Passaic, from $8,618 to $8,742, the analysis found.

To be sure, North Jersey property taxes remain among the highest in the nation and continue to rank among residents foremost concerns. At a time when salaries and incomes are falling behind inflation, and the cost of owning a home consumes 25 to 30 percent of the typical North Jersey households income, property taxes represent one of the largest expenses for most homeowners.

But in the previous 10 years, median residential property tax bills in most communities rose by $300 to $500 annually, with some increases running $750 to $1,000.

Governor Christies office hailed the trend, noting that Trenton didnt just enact the cap law, it tried to help localities stay within the 2 percent ceiling by adopting cost-saving reforms to health and pension benefits and public-employee salary arbitrations.

Indeed, there are signs that some key underlying inflators of the cost of local government are easing. According to the state Public Employment Relations Commission, salaries in contracts it has on file for the first four months of this year show increases of less than 2 percent; that builds on a similar trend for all of 2011.

The 2 percent cap is the law and must be met with limited exceptions; so its working as intended, said Michael Drewniak, the governors spokesman. Thats good and its gratifying that municipalities have reset spending priorities and streamlined their operations.

State Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, said the trend shows that the cap is working. He added that government needs to be run more efficiently and at a reduced cost to the taxpayers of this state.

Nevertheless, local officials say they expect future pay raises negotiated with public-employee unions, rising pension and health insurance expenses, and the increasing cost of maintaining buildings and grounds to make it tougher to find places to cut.

Its got to give somewhere, said Robert Finger, business administrator for the Teaneck schools. [We], and probably every other district, will be saying: OK, we are staying within the 2 percent cap. But guess what? Courtesy busing is going away. Class sizes will increase. We will put off doing that new roof. And we wont be expanding the library.

As the debate continues, taxpayers welcome the trend, but some wonder if it goes far enough.

From two residents in Northvale, where the typical $9,453 residential bill and 2 percent increase echoed Bergen County-wide figures, the latest numbers drew a mixed reaction.

Its less than I have to worry about paying out of my pocket. Im a lot happier, said Robert Otworth, adding that he is pleased with what he gets in municipal services and school programs for the tax on his two-story colonial.

But a few blocks away, retiree Edward Kammer said even a small increase was difficult to pay.

Even that little bit is a little too much, he said, noting that he objected to six-figure salaries made by some police officers. Im just barely making it.

Cutbacks, shared services

In its analysis, The Record found that:

The total tax levy across Bergen County municipalities rose 1.8 percent to $3.39 billion, from $3.33 billion in 2011-12. (The figures cover all but East Rutherford, which has yet to set its levy because of a dispute over payments by the Meadowlands Sports Complex.) The total in all Passaic municipalities rose 1.7 percent to $1.34 billion, from $1.32 billion. Levies comprise total taxes paid by all property owners in a town to fund municipal and county governments, as well as public schools.

Increases stayed at or below 2 percent in 44 of the 86 municipalities in Bergen and Passaic, with 19 others coming in at less than 3 percent.

Jumps of greater than 4 percent ubiquitous just a few years ago were seen only in Edgewater, Moonachie and Park Ridge in Bergen County, and Little Falls, Ringwood and Woodland Park in Passaic. Nowhere in the two counties did taxes rise more than 6 percent. Increases of more than 2 percent are allowed under the cap law in some circumstances, including the need to pay for emergency expenses, jumps in health and pension benefit costs and construction loans.

The typical residential tax in the most recent bills ranged from $5,902 in industrial Carlstadt to $15,445 in mansion-heavy Alpine. Individual tax bills are the result of how towns parcel out the tax levy to each property owner. The median bill actually dropped in some towns because of updates in tax assessments that shift relative tax burdens among residential and commercial property owners.

Cost-control tactics varied from town to town and school system to school system, local officials say.

In some, payrolls were cut by reducing full-time employees to part time or by filling jobs vacated by retirees with lower-paid workers. Some left positions vacant.

Others used nuts-and-bolts measures: energy-efficient utility systems, shared services with nearby communities, centralized gas purchases for municipal vehicles or garbage collection contracts renewed at reduced rates.

Its not really a headline grabber when a borough stops letting the volunteer ambulance corps buy their own gas, but those are the things that are going into stretching out the low increases for another year, said Frank Di Maria, auditor for Lodi and eight other Bergen County municipalities.

Still others used surpluses and short-term fixes to keep levies in check.

In Northvale, Councilman Pat Marana said the borough had unspent funds from the 2011 budget and money left over from completed construction projects. The borough also saved money by converting its public library to a digital media center.

In Teaneck, school officials helped keep the towns overall levy increase to less than 1 percent by using extra state aid in 2011, a budget surplus and a decision to postpone plans to install new lockers and upgrade school security systems, said Finger.

Higher local fees

Municipalities have also found ways to stay within the cap by increasing fees for municipal services, such as recreation, trash collection and water moves that help balance the books but dont necessarily benefit taxpayers.

Christie and Sweeney are pushing to close that loophole by making fees fall within the cap. Sweeney introduced a bill in May and the Senate adopted it that month, but it hasnt moved out of committee in the Assembly.

A separate bill that passed the Senate last week and is pending in the Assembly would require local governments to share services when there is proof of cost savings. Voters would cast ballots on whether to share services and if they defeat the measures, the town would lose state aid equal to the amount of the projected savings.

Beyond the balance sheets, local officials said the weather lent a hand with a warm 2011-12 winter that kept heating and snow-removal costs down, freeing up money for other things. In the wake of superstorm Sandy, officials said they expected to recoup most of the cleanup costs with federal aid and insurance payouts.

But not every place was able to keep increases low, and in many cases officials made use of exemptions available under the cap law.

Leonias 3.6 percent increase was driven largely by the need to pay off bonds sold to finance school building improvements, said school district Business Administrator Julia Perez.

In Bogota, a rise of just under 4 percent resulted partly from increases in pension contributions, deferred overtime expenses from 2011 and money needed to pay off bonds, said Borough Manager Leonard Nicolosi. He noted that a 2 percent increase in the boroughs budget would barely pay for police raises.

And in the Passaic Valley Regional School District, which serves Woodland Park, Totowa and Little Falls, the property tax support required by the district shot up 9 percent mainly because of an unusually large 8.4 percent rise in enrollment, said Business Administrator Paul Gerber. That included a jump in the number of special-education students who require more expensive programs, he said.

One other factor that led to increases in Edgewater, Moonachie, Little Falls and Woodland Park, and declines in Englewood, Rockleigh and Paterson, was a reallocation among municipalities of levies required to fund county governments.

Looking ahead, officials predict that increases exceeding the cap will become the rule rather than the exception, unless residents are willing to accept service cuts.

You can get by for a while with cutting expenses, but youve got to find ways to increase revenues, said Herr, the Paramus finance chief.

Others note a weak economic recovery, sluggish real-estate market and potential cuts in state and federal education and local government aid as additional obstacles.

Were looking at hoping the economy kicks in, said William Dressel, executive director of the New Jersey League of Municipalities. It kind of gives you a headache when you look at the prospects.

Staff Writer Melissa Hayes contributed to this article.
Email: sheingold@northjersey.com

Easing the burden

Increases in tax levies to support municipal and county government as well as local and regional schools continued to slow in 2012, following the imposition of a 2 percent cap in 2010.

Year Bergen County Pct chg Passaic County Pct chg
2000 1,876,633,659   724,096,687
 
2001 1,963,506,736 4.6 755,207,452 4.3
2002 2,082,626,899 6.1 802,900,610 6.3
2003 2,201,698,956 5.7 851,594,654 6.1
2004 2,358,571,178 7.1 904,418,302 6.2
2005 2,516,466,512 6.7 963,272,286 6.5
2006 2,680,865,184 6.5 1,029,176,577 6.8
2007 2,856,304,136 6.5 1,094,192,591 6.3
2008 2,999,323,288 5.0 1,152,383,645 5.3
2009 3,118,811,131 4.0 1,197,414,568 3.9
2010 3,247,232,218 4.1 1,258,144,653 5.1
2011 3,331,984,845 2.6 1,318,922,016 4.8
2012 3,393,070,740 1.8 1,341,901,368 1.7
« Last Edit: December 03, 2012, 11:36:00 AM by Editor »

Offline Editor

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #64 on: March 15, 2013, 01:59:58 AM »
Hackensack among municipalities to receive flat aid amount from state
Friday, March 15, 2013
BY  JENNIFER VAZQUEZ
NEWS EDITOR
Hackensack Chronicle

As Governor Christie revealed his 2014 budget, the year's aid amounts grappled towns state-wide as news came out that most municipalities would not receive any additional aid to help relieve property taxes marking aid to remain flat.

The budget, introduced Feb. 26, has a total proposed amount of $32.9 billion, with municipal aid for the 2014 fiscal year making up $1.364 billion of the total budget, according to the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA).

"In total, the budget I am submitting to you today provides $32.9 billion," Governor Christie said during his budget address. "While we are meeting the needs of our people in this budget, we are doing it by spending less than the state spent in Fiscal Year 2008."

According to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, the fact that communities suffered in recent months, particularly due to Hurricane Sandy, should have been taken into consideration when the state was working towards dispersing aid to municipalities.

"I understand that we are in an economic crisis, I get that," Sokolich said. "I also get that the governor has been hinting at expecting less by way of aid, but we continue to send money down to Trenton and not getting anything back."

According to DCA, aid for Fort Lee is $1.77 million.

While the average property tax bill increased in 2012, the DCA said that progress has been made since the increase is the lowest in over twenty years.

"In 2011, New Jersey homeowners saw a statewide average rise of 2.4 [percent] in property taxes. In 2012, the statewide average increase was just 1.4 [percent], the lowest in 24 years," according to the DCA.

"Property taxes had increased 70 percent in the previous 10 years," Governor Christie said. "The state had increased taxes and fees 115 times in the prior eight years."

However, according to Sokolich, this statement does not ring true.

"In order for our tax rates to be zero, that would mean I would have to find $2 million somewhere within our budget, but when you have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on Sandy and send hundreds of thousands down to Trenton it's impossible[Trenton is] basically telling municipalities to pay [it] more and make due with less."

Sokolich expects a slight increase in taxes, due to the situation Fort Lee is faced with.

"Our increase to the average homeowner in Fort Lee would be $110 a year approximately $28 a quarter," he said. "That is not that much, but our residents don't want to see their taxes increase."

While Leonia Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Myrna Becker "didn't expect it to go up, given that it is an election year," she said that the borough is getting through these economically trying times by reducing the number of municipal workers.

The amount of aid Leonia received for the 2014 fiscal year is barely over $1 million.

"The aid is very helpful for our budget," she said. "But because of the situation we are faced with, and that many other municipalities are in, our employee base was reduced. Yes, we've seen a decline in revenues and state aid, but thankfully we've been managing by reducing our municipal work force."

Leonia Mayor John DeSimone was not surprised by the lack of aid either.

"This was to be expected," he said. "It doesn't come as any surprise."

Hackensack City Manager Stephen Lo Iacono shared the same sentiments.

"I'll be honest, I based my budget on flat state aid before we even got word from the state," Lo Iacono said. "I'm not surprised. I am grateful that it wasn't less, but with the same token, it would have been nice to receive more monies back that belong to the municipalities."

Hackensack's aid is an approximate $4.3 million.

Edgewater Mayor James Delaney whose borough received an aid amount totaling $750,731 does not think the aid numbers will effect Edgewater's budget.

"I'm a little surprised as we were hoping for more," he said. "We could have used it. But I don't think it will effect our budget."

The flat aid amounts given to municipalities will prevent them from having to scramble to make due with a decrease, according to Governor Christie.

However, Sokolich pointed out that, while aid was not reduced, new items are added to the budgets of municipalities, but the necessary aid is not allotted.

"[Fort Lee has] new items to spend on our schools' Safety Resource Officers, an excess of $500,000 in Hurricane Sandy [damage] and we have to send down to Trenton, along other municipalities, hundreds of thousands in contributions without getting aid in return," he said. "It is not a leveled playing field."

Property tax reform, which aid falls under, is far from coming to a conclusion, according to the DCA.

The DCA is a state agency that provides guidance, financial support and technical assistance to local governments, community development organizations, businesses and individuals.

A juggling act is ahead for municipalities due to the aid amount received and the rising costs towns are acquiring, Sokolich said.

"I can't impose more of a burden to our tax payers, but at the same time I have to make sure to keep the way of life that our tax payers are accustomed to," he said. "That is the challenge."

Offline Editor

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #65 on: March 22, 2013, 03:48:44 PM »
Hackensack budget update
Friday March 22, 2013, 11:34 AM
The Record

What's new: Hackensack officials introduced a $91.9 million budget this week, a 2.2 percent increase over last year's $90 million.

What it means: The estimated $76 million municipal tax levy would represent a 2.4 percent increase over 2011, when it was $74.2 million. Under the spending plan, the owner of a home assessed at $243,020, the city's average, would pay an additional $118.84 per year or $9.90 per month.

What's in it: The city plans to maintain services and avoid layoffs, said City Manager Stephen Lo Iacono. He noted that about 50 positions have remained unfilled for five years in various departments, except police and fire. The city's salary and wage expenses increase by 3.8 percent in the budget plan. Other changes include a $367,353 decrease in debt service and a $171,000 reduction in group insurance costs. A quarter of the tax increase can be attributed to tax appeal payments, as market property values continue to fall, Lo Iacono said.

What's next: A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 7, at City Hall, 65 Central Ave.

-- Hannan Adely

Offline vsasson

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #66 on: March 22, 2013, 06:13:09 PM »
That brief from The Record doesn't mention property taxes would rise 3.3% under the proposed budget or that the tremendous amount of untaxed property at Hackensack University Medical Center and Fairleigh Dickinson University's Hackensack campus are a tremendous burden on homeowners.

Offline Homer Jones

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #67 on: March 22, 2013, 07:04:21 PM »
You might want to check with the tax assessor on Monday to find out how much in taxes the three office buildings on "Fairleigh Dickinson University's Hackensack campus" pay in taxes. It is my understanding that when the University started acquiring property in Hackensack in the 1960's , the City and the University made an agreement that for every non ratable constructed by the University they would have to construct a ratable. That is why there are three office buildings on that campus.
Back in the 1980's when the University built the Rothman Arena, they constructed 3 University Plaza which is one of the largest office buildings in the City.

Offline irons35

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #68 on: March 22, 2013, 11:47:42 PM »
almost 2 million dollars paid in taxes per year for the 3 buildings.

Offline just watching

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #69 on: March 23, 2013, 02:16:23 PM »
The Sanzari Medical Arts Building also pays taxes, and the tall hospital tower ( I think the address is 20 Prospect) pays taxes for 20 to 30 years from when it was built. And then it becomes tax exempt.  I think one of the parking towers has a similar arrangement, it pays taxes for a set number of years.

The 3 office buildings at FDU pay taxes forever.

Offline hackensack_newbie

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #70 on: March 25, 2013, 08:40:03 PM »
I'm surprised to hear that FDU and HUMC pay any taxes since they are non-profits. Do religious institutions pay taxes as well?

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #71 on: March 25, 2013, 10:47:22 PM »
No, religious institutions typically don't pay taxes.  Educational and hospital uses are exempt too, but the use of the particular parcel may not be exempt.  Here's a good resource: http://tax1.co.monmouth.nj.us/cgi-bin/prc6.cgi?district=0223&ms_user=monm for checking on property taxes (Thanks irons).  Bergen County GIS is another, but it can be a little cumbersome: http://gis.co.bergen.nj.us/ (Zoom in close to the parcel and hit the info button in the upper right. Then, click on the parcel. A box will pop up.  Hit the little triangle to display more info about owner, taxes, etc.)

The statute:
 
54:4-3.6. Tax exempt property.

      54:4-3.6. The following property shall be exempt from taxation under this chapter: all buildings actually used for colleges, schools, academies or seminaries, provided that if any portion of such buildings are leased to profit-making organizations or otherwise used for purposes which are not themselves exempt from taxation, said portion shall be subject to taxation and the remaining portion only shall be exempt; all buildings actually used for historical societies, associations or exhibitions, when owned by the State, county or any political subdivision thereof or when located on land owned by an educational institution which derives its primary support from State revenue; all buildings actually and exclusively used for public libraries, asylum or schools for adults and children with intellectual disabilities; all buildings used exclusively by any association or corporation formed for the purpose and actually engaged in the work of preventing cruelty to animals; all buildings actually and exclusively used and owned by volunteer first-aid squads, which squads are or shall be incorporated as associations not for pecuniary profit; all buildings actually used in the work of associations and corporations organized exclusively for the moral and mental improvement of men, women and children, provided that if any portion of a building used for that purpose is leased to profit-making organizations or is otherwise used for purposes which are not themselves exempt from taxation, that portion shall be subject to taxation and the remaining portion only shall be exempt; all buildings actually used in the work of associations and corporations organized exclusively for religious purposes, including religious worship, or charitable purposes, provided that if any portion of a building used for that purpose is leased to a profit-making organization or is otherwise used for purposes which are not themselves exempt from taxation, that portion shall be subject to taxation and the remaining portion shall be exempt from taxation, and provided further that if any portion of a building is used for a different exempt use by an exempt entity, that portion shall also be exempt from taxation; all buildings actually used in the work of associations and corporations organized exclusively for hospital purposes, provided that if any portion of a building used for hospital purposes is leased to profit-making organizations or otherwise used for purposes which are not themselves exempt from taxation, that portion shall be subject to taxation and the remaining portion only shall be exempt; all buildings owned or held by an association or corporation created for the purpose of holding the title to such buildings as are actually and exclusively used in the work of two or more associations or corporations organized exclusively for the moral and mental improvement of men, women and children; all buildings owned by a corporation created under or otherwise subject to the provisions of Title 15 of the Revised Statutes or Title 15A of the New Jersey Statutes and actually and exclusively used in the work of one or more associations or corporations organized exclusively for charitable or religious purposes, which associations or corporations may or may not pay rent for the use of the premises or the portions of the premises used by them; the buildings, not exceeding two, actually occupied as a parsonage by the officiating clergymen of any religious corporation of this State, together with the accessory buildings located on the same premises; the land whereon any of the buildings hereinbefore mentioned are erected, and which may be necessary for the fair enjoyment thereof, and which is devoted to the purposes above mentioned and to no other purpose and does not exceed five acres in extent; the furniture and personal property in said buildings if used in and devoted to the purposes above mentioned; all property owned and used by any nonprofit corporation in connection with its curriculum, work, care, treatment and study of men, women, or children with intellectual disabilities shall also be exempt from taxation, provided that such corporation conducts and maintains research or professional training facilities for the care and training of men, women, or children with intellectual disabilities; provided, in case of all the foregoing, the buildings, or the lands on which they stand, or the associations, corporations or institutions using and occupying them as aforesaid, are not conducted for profit, except that the exemption of the buildings and lands used for charitable, benevolent or religious purposes shall extend to cases where the charitable, benevolent or religious work therein carried on is supported partly by fees and charges received from or on behalf of beneficiaries using or occupying the buildings; provided the building is wholly controlled by and the entire income therefrom is used for said charitable, benevolent or religious purposes; and any tract of land purchased pursuant to subsection (n) of section 21 of P.L.1971, c.199 (C.40A:12-21), and located within a municipality, actually used for the cultivation and sale of fresh fruits and vegetables and owned by a duly incorporated nonprofit organization or association which includes among its principal purposes the cultivation and sale of fresh fruits and vegetables, other than a political, partisan, sectarian, denominational or religious organization or association. The foregoing exemption shall apply only where the association, corporation or institution claiming the exemption owns the property in question and is incorporated or organized under the laws of this State and authorized to carry out the purposes on account of which the exemption is claimed or where an educational institution, as provided herein, has leased said property to a historical society or association or to a corporation organized for such purposes and created under or otherwise subject to the provisions of Title 15 of the Revised Statutes or Title 15A of the New Jersey Statutes.

      As used in this section "hospital purposes" includes health care facilities for the elderly, such as nursing homes; residential health care facilities; assisted living residences; facilities with a Class C license pursuant to P.L.1979, c.496 (C.55:13B-1 et al.), the "Rooming and Boarding House Act of 1979"; similar facilities that provide medical, nursing or personal care services to their residents; and that portion of the central administrative or service facility of a continuing care retirement community that is reasonably allocable as a health care facility for the elderly.

      amended 1941, c.243; 1949, c.85; 1960, c.119; 1962, c.154, s.1; 1964, c.42; 1966, c.318; 1977, c.370; 1983, c.224; 1985, c.395; 1993, c.166; 2001, c.18; 2010, c.50, s.81; 2011, c.35, s.4; 2011, c.171, s.4.
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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #72 on: March 29, 2013, 10:17:24 AM »
Proposed $91.95 million municipal budget linked to tax appeals, officials said
Friday, March 29, 2013
BY JENNIFER VAZQUEZ
NEWS EDITOR
Hackensack Chronicle
 
Loss in ratables from tax appeals are directly linked to the increase in the municipal budget for 2013, officials said.

The proposed municipal budget, totaling $91.95 million, an increase of 2.2 percent, was introduced at the March 19 council meeting.

The tax increase for residents, with an average home assessed at $243,020, is approximately $118 for the year. The total increase of the budget is 2.2 percent.

Hackensack Chief Financial Officer Tammy Lyn Zucca and Municipal Accountant Steven Wielkotz briefly discussed the budget during the meeting.

"Twenty-four percent [of the tax increase] is directly related to the loss in ratables from tax appeals," Wielkotz said.

According to Zucca's and Wielkotz's presentation, the factors impacting the budget include "the general state of the economy, the impact of tax appeals, retirements, interest rates [and] flat state aid."

Though there is a 2 percent cap on tax increases, there are certain waivers that allow for a municipality to go over the mandated cap, including debt, capital expenses, health benefits, pension pay and "expenses incurred in connection with a state of emergency," according to New Jersey's Office of the Governor.

According to the budget explanatory statement, "Major pension fund contributions increased by nearly $100,000."

City Manager Stephen Lo Iacono further explained: "We originally had a $89 increase for the typical home, but we were waiting for the ratable number to come in from the county. Once we finally had this number, nothing changed in the budget not a figure, nothing was added but there was an decrease of 24 percent in ratable value."

According to Lo Iacono, when the evaluation rate decreases, the tax rate has to go up to make up for the loss of revenue.

"This is what caused a change in the rate," he said.

The flat aid Hackensack received from Trenton a total of $4.3 million did not assist in alleviating the budget increase.

In an earlier interview with Lo Iacono, he stated that the city based the budget on a flat aid number.

"I'll be honest, I based my budget on flat state aid before we even got word from the state," Lo Iacono said.

Based on the information presented, salaries and wages comprise $39.36 million or 42.8 percent of the total budget. This amount is up from last year's adopted $37.9 million figure.

Pay for the police and fire department make up the majority of the city's salaries. The police department proposed $14.2 million in salaries, up from the $13.75 million the previous year a 3.1 percent increase. The fire department's salaries are up a 3.8 percent to a total of $12.5 million up from $12.3 million.

A public hearing on the budget and tax resolution is planned for May 7.

Email: vazquez@northjersey.com

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #73 on: May 10, 2013, 02:42:38 PM »
Hackensack Council adopts $91.95 million budget
Friday May 10, 2013, 10:58 AM
BY  JENNIFER VAZQUEZ
NEWS EDITOR
Hackensack Chronicle

HACKENSACK - In a 4-1 vote, the City Council adopted the 2013 municipal budget, totaling $91.95 million - a 2.2 percent hike over 2012.

The vote took place during the May 7 council meeting, following the budget's public hearing.

Councilman John Labrosse, who voted against the budget, wanted more cut from the spending plan.

"I have gone back and forth with [City Manager Stephen] Lo Iacono," Labrosse said referring to his attempts at further understanding the budget. "Not $1 has been taken off from the budget since it was introduced."

Labrosse said that the lack of meetings and communication within the budget committee, and not sufficient time to look over the spending plan, influenced his vote.

Mayor Michael Melfi, a budget committee member, disagreed, stating that Labrosse, also a committee member, should have been present at all meetings and prepared with the presented information beforehand - prior to voting.

For a home assessed at $243,020, taxes will increase approximately $118 for the year.

The spending plan calls for approximately $76 million raised through taxes - 2.43 percent more than last year.

Some of the largest factors driving up the budget this year are the sluggish economy, tax appeals, retirements, interest rates, and state aid remaining flat, according to information from the city's chief financial officer and accountant from the March 19 council meeting.

"Continuing property value issues have had a significant effect on this budget. Fully 24 [percent] of the Municipal Tax increase is attributed to a reduction in ratable value," according to the budget's explanatory statement.

Loss in ratables from tax appeals are directly linked to the increase in the municipal budget for 2013, officials have previously said.

When the evaluation rate decreases, the tax rate increases to make up for the loss of revenue, City Manager Stephen Lo Iacono said in a previous interview.

During the public hearing Kathleen Canestrino, a city council candidate with the Citizens for Change slate, said the city government should trim the "other expenses" line item to lower the total budget. "Other expenses" total $34.33 million.

In response, Lo Iacono and Weilkotz said that further lowering the budget was not practical since in reality, it is lower than it should be. According to both, the city should have budgeted another $300,000 for salary adjustments.

The 2013 budget calls for salaries and wages to comprise $39.36 million - or 42.8 percent - of the total budget. This is the largest appropriation in the plan. This amount is up from last year's adopted $37.9 million figure.

Pay for the police and fire department make up the majority of the city's salaries. The police department proposed $14.2 million in salaries, up from the $13.75 million the previous year - a 3.1 percent increase. The fire department's salaries are up a 3.8 percent to a total of $12.5 million.

Email: vazquez@northjersey.com

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Re: Property Taxes
« Reply #74 on: September 26, 2013, 12:01:48 AM »
N.J. Supreme Court grants tax-exempt status to Hackensack non-profit, ends tax battle with 11 Bergen County towns
Wednesday September 25, 2013, 6:49 PM
BY  MATTHEW MCGRATH
STAFF WRITER
The Record

A Hackensack-based non-profit that houses and serves the psychiatrically disabled in a dozen Bergen County municipalities was granted a property tax exemption by the state Supreme Court in a decision published Wednesday.

The court ruled unanimously that Advance Housing is exempt from paying property taxes on 21 properties throughout the county. The ruling settles a legal battle between the charity and the municipalities that dates to 2001.

The decision will breathe new life into the non-profit, which owed more than a million dollars in property taxes to Teaneck, Bergenfield, Little Ferry, Ramsey, Ridgefield Park, Lodi, Fairview, Leonia and Hackensack. The exact figure was not available Wednesday, but in 2011 Advanced owed $916,384.

The ruling will allow Advance to reinvest in its properties and perhaps clear out its line of credit and begin to give raises to employees who have had their pay frozen for five years, said Mary Rossettini, Advances president and chief executive officer.

Its been hard to keep employees, Rossettini said. They come, get experience and earn the masters degrees, and then they leave. Its been a part of doing business.

Advances business model did not include tax payments, and during the intervening 12 years the non-profit has had to set aside money in case it ultimately lost its court battle.

The court upheld an Appellate Division decision from 2011. In that decision, a three-judge panel said it was clear that Advances operations integrated housing and support services and therefore met the requirements for Advance to qualify for tax exemption.

Attorneys for some of the municipalities had argued that Advance did not qualify for tax-exempt status because it principally provides fair-market housing for the disabled, with support services amounting to a separate entity.

The appeals court ruling overturned a tax court ruling that sided with the towns.

Advance Housing applied for tax-exempt status in 2001 so it could seek funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, but the municipalities turned it down. The non-profit tried to negotiate a payment in lieu of taxes but failed to get that.

Its just a huge exhale, Rossettini said. Weve been fighting this battle for more than a decade, and its a relief to know that the justice system works for the people that need it most.

Email: mcgrathm@northjersey.com

- See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/bergenfield/NJ_Supreme_Court_grants_tax-exempt_status_to_Hackensack_non-profit_ends_tax_battle_with_11_Bergen_County_towns.html?page=all#sthash.IoXu9COK.dpuf