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Messages - hackensack_newbie

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1
I have two pairs. Section 334, seats 9-10. Section 134, seats 11-12. Anyone have any interest? I paid $635 for the section 134 pair and $380 for the section 334 pair.

Make me an offer. Email me at croger@sociologist.com.

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Hackensack Discussion / Re: Property Taxes
« 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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Hackensack Discussion / Re: Hurricane Sandy
« on: December 21, 2012, 10:16:16 AM »
I remember going to that gas station the day Sandy first hit. I felt like I was being gouged, but I wasn't quite sure. I guess this confirms it...

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They were also shooting at Padre Pio on S. Main St. It doesn't seem like Scarlett was present, but some of the other actors were.

http://www.onlocationvacations.com/2012/06/26/joseph-gordon-levitt-spotted-on-the-set-of-don-jons-addiction-in-new-jersey-today/

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Hackensack Discussion / Re: Property Taxes
« 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.

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Hackensack Discussion / Re: Property Taxes
« 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.

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Hackensack Discussion / Re: Property Taxes
« 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.

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

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Hackensack Discussion / Re: Property Taxes
« 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.

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Hackensack Discussion / Re: Property Taxes
« 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.

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Hackensack Discussion / Re: Property Taxes
« 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.

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Hackensack Discussion / Re: St. Gabriel's Church, Grand Avenue
« on: October 21, 2011, 10:21:02 AM »
If I've understood correctly, it seems you're saying that an upwardly mobile and financially solid group attending religious services in Hackensack provides some inherent benefit to the city? I think this holds true for any religious organization, which is why they are generally exempt from property taxes.

For Hackensack to really benefit from this upwardly mobile and financially solid group, they would need to actually be part of the local community. I don't think that's the case. I've lived near the church for the past 3 years. It certainly gets crowded on Sundays, but not much seems to go on the other days. I've never seen any kind of community outreach. They just come and go, which is why I don't think their particular presence would be missed. Any religious group would do just fine there.

Now if you tell me that this particular group resides in Hackensack, continues to grow in Hackensack because of this church, and now we may lose this population as residents, then I would agree with you.

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I've seen Frankie up every year around this time for the past 3 years. I'm surprised that sign hasn't been stolen...most folks ignore it.

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Hackensack Discussion / Re: New tenant at Holy Trinity School
« on: October 12, 2011, 08:19:31 AM »
Seems to be grades 7 thru 9 according to the admission application form.

http://www.bergencharter.org/middlehigh/

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