Slammed With Tax Appeals, River Edge May Explore Revaluations Vs Reassessments
Borough is currently facing 150 tax appeals for this past year
River Edge has been hit with a skyrocketing number of tax appeals during the past year, officials said Tuesday.
The borough dealt with 20 appeals in 2008, but the number has risen dramatically in the past two years, reaching 120 in 2009 and 150 so far this year, borough Tax Assessor Jim Anzevino said
"I think, as everyone knows, the economy may be stable now, but in 2008 we saw a change for the worse," Anzevino said. "We saw values drop and less home sales. At the same time, we saw more tax appeals come in. There are many reasons for people to do so and it's not the most complicated form in the world."
Appeals on properties assessed at less than $1 million are heard by the county, and all of River Edge's cases are heard on the same day. But more valuable properties, such as those in the commercial zone, go before the State Tax Court, which is a much longer process. The borough has cases still pending before the tax court dating back to 2006.
"There has been a rise in the commercial appeals and state tax court appeals," Anzevino said. "One thing I am doing in another town is looking at a revaluation versus a reassessment."
During a revaluation, the borough's tax maps must also be updated and sent to the State Division of Taxation for review, as every home is adjusted.
"When we did Oradell, the state didn't look at the maps for a year," Anzevino said. "They just sat there untouched. In addition to the cost, an estimated $300,000, the inspectors have to go to every house. It's somewhat labor intensive and a long process."
A reassessment costs less than a revaluation by approximately $100,000 because the borough can go out to bid for the project with a neighboring community. A reassessment does not look at every home.
"If you had not had a revaluation done in 20 years, I'd suggest that," Anzevino said. "Because things change in homes and neighborhoods, but your last revaluation was done 7 years ago, it's still pretty accurate."
The change in the assessments and tax rate would not create additional revenue for the town. Instead, River Edge could see savings in the amount of tax appeals that are settled in court.
"I would suspect that some of the residential will come down a bit, and the commercial will remain level," Anzevino said. "However, every property is different, so I can't say for certain who will go up or down."
The deadline for 2011 has already passed, so any changes would not take effect until 2012. If the Council decided to do a revaluation, they need to ask permission from the county by early January. But if a reassessment is preferred, no decision has to be made until March.