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Developer, Residents Weigh A Costly Future In River Edge

Still upset about the new reassessment results, one developer is at a loss while several residents say they're considering moving.

Local are not the only ones in River Edge who are still reeling from the  as one developer and a handful of residents try to decide what to do next.

Housing developer Joe Polaco was originally planning on constructing a pair of 2500-square-foot houses along Park Avenue but following the reassessment, he had to drop those plans.

"I was looking to get started but right now I'm completely shut down due to a lack of interest regarding the taxes," Polaco said. "These would have been simple houses and I'm stuck with plans and property that I can't sell. I also have a house on Madison Avenue and those taxes will be between $18-19,000 and the lack of interest there is evident. I have three properties in town that I don't know what to do with."

Polaco added that he is now looking to downsize his plans to either a pair of 1400-square-foot homes or find a way to work with the borough to construct duplexes.

The assessment by Appraisal Systems cost the borough approximately $174,000 by teaming up with Cresskill and Dumont to share the cost. For the past two years, the borough had been slammed with tax appeals, approximately 150 as of  and then 132 by .

But since the 83-page report was completed and residents and council members alike began receiving their new assessments, the governing body has been inundated by homeowners at each meeting.

"My family moved here four years ago and we made the decision to invest in this community and since then our taxes have more than doubled," Victor Erdos said. "My wife and I and our twins came from a 600-square-foot apartment in the city, we came into the suburbs to make our life and future and made careful decisions for the mortgage and taxes. The assessment jumps our taxes up to $24-25,000 and this puts us in the situation to push us out of our home, which I'm not sure I could sell. We don't live outside of our means."

Homeowners who are being hit the hardest by the assessment are those who recently moved into town, those who moved into newer construction or anyone who filed an appeal and received a reduction in the past. Approximately 2,000 homeowners will see a drop in their taxes but about 1,050 are expected to see a hike in their taxes. Just shy of half of those seeing an increase in taxes, 426 homeowners, will be hit the hardest with increases ranging from $1,000 or more.

Both Jennifer DePinto and Kirsten Abba have similar stories as neither is a long-time resident, each having moved to town within the past year.

DePinto and her husband moved into town eight months ago and reside on Fifth Avenue. "Our taxes went up 53% in a few weeks; I would have been crazy to buy a house with $16,000  in taxes on a main road. Eight months ago this was a dream come true, but now, if we could we'd leave River Edge tomorrow. I'm a teacher and my husband is a police officer. We moved mountains to get here because of the schools and now I wish it hadn't worked out."

Abba, who lives on Voorhis Avenue, has not done any additional work to her 1939 home which was expanded by a prior owner in 1999.

"We got a 20% increase in one year and have done nothing to the house that would impact the assessment," Abba said. "The single factor is we bought our house. In my opinion, I don't think we got what we paid for because now I would not hope to sell it for what it's worth as it's under market. I've talked to the assessor, assessment company and several attorneys and we have no recourse to appeal because our taxes are not comparable to the rest of town. You don't have million dollar properties in town, but you do have excellent schools."

Sona Damergy has lived in River Edge for 35 years and a few years ago her daughter Melanie Paxinopoulos had an opportunity to purchase a home in town, just down the street. Now they are both wondering how much longer they will stay in town.

"In 2003 there was a home down the block that was in bad condition," Damergy said. "My daughter and son-in-law were able to come in and buy the lot. In the nine years since then their taxes have doubled and now they want to leave town and put it up for sale."

The Paxinopoulos' home on a 70-by-100 lot, which had been renovated, is now assessed at $800,000 with annual taxes of $28,000.

"I've been fortunate to live and grow up in River Edge," Paxinopoulos said. "The taxes in 2003 were $5,000 and now its gone up to $21,000 and we're on one income. I should have listened to my husband five years ago to leave but the schools are great for our two kids. We couldn't sell the house for what we want because no one will pay that much in taxes for a 70-by-100 lot."

Prior to next week's Mayor and Council meeting on April 16, when Tax Assessor James Anzevino will be available to answer any additional questions from residents, members of the governing body were expected to sit down with the Bergen County Board of Taxation to discuss any available options for homeowners.

Residents can appeal their reassessment by filing a petition with the Bergen County Board of Taxation, One Bergen County Plaza, Room 370, Hackensack by May 1.

GGT May 01, 2012 at 08:20 PM
taxtime: No, I am talking about houses in general in town, not just "Mc Mansions". That era is dead in town now.
GGT May 01, 2012 at 08:23 PM
800k On fifth ave, boy did they make a mistake. And the license plates indicate they buyers are from out ot town. As I say buyer beware.l
gixx May 01, 2012 at 10:35 PM
taxtime: Thank you for making my point!! The house would in SL or FL would be on a 1acre plus property and worth 2mill not 700k on a 75x100.
gixx May 01, 2012 at 11:19 PM
taxtime: I live in a modest size home that was built 10yrs ago. I have watched my taxes double in that amount of time. I dare you to tell me that I was not paying my “fair share” in taxes for the past 10 yrs. and that you were subsidizing my home. I was paying 11.5k 10yrs. ago when everyone else was paying 5k. I’m sick of hearing the BS about “fair share” and that the smaller homes were subsidizing the McMansions. Do you really think that 2,960 homes were subsidizing the 30 to 40 “McMansions” The point still remains that NO house in RE, I don’t care how big should be paying 22k+ a year.
taxtime May 02, 2012 at 12:52 AM
gixx if your tax was 11.5 ten years ago your house is NOT modest for River Edge standards. The fact tht you were paying 6.5K more for years just is proof that you bought a house that was always taxed high for RE. And the numbers have never changed. 25% of peoples taxes went UP and 75% of peoples taxes went DOWN. your numbers make no sense and just show how you are trying to use numbers to your advantage. sorry if you are not happy. then get out and move somewhere else.
taxtime May 02, 2012 at 12:53 AM
GGT a few more houses coming on shortly. where are they.
Dr.Doom May 02, 2012 at 02:09 AM
taxtime: 1st of all you should stop making up numbers - 35% went up, also look at attached PDF above to see the composition of the taxes v. actual sales prices for the 2010-2011. It's quite clear that total assesment was artifically lowered so now assessor can be pretty arrogant asking if "you think you can sell your house for that much". Also 11K for the house built in 2000 could get you 2500sq ft for 2 story house. not sure about your definition of the modest house, but your standards seem to be pretty low.
taxtime May 02, 2012 at 05:06 AM
of course the total assessment was artificially lowered but the point is the OVERALL taxes have been shifted and have remained the same. Therefore 65% of the people are happy and majority rules. If you were paying 11k in River Edge in 2000 then you obviously had a better house than most people. 10 years ago the poster paying $11K had a choice and they chose River Edge. Now their taxes have gone up accordingly and for them to complain seems kind of ridiculous as everyones relative taxes have increased. If you all feel the taxes are too high then why are you still here. To say you cannot sell your house is ridiculous as a house just went on the market for over $800K in River Edge and sold in 7 days. Valley is now under contract and to assume it will not go through is just your arrogance.
TomW May 02, 2012 at 10:37 AM
What's ridiculous is to have property taxes more than double for over 10 years I have lived in RE. I would agree that assessed values of homes increase there by increasing taxes. However, the tax rate can be decreased as easily as it has been increasing. This just goes to show much this town and state spends on the backs of us residents and the ignorance of residences that want more but cry foul when taxes go up.
Dr.Doom May 02, 2012 at 11:24 AM
Is it expected for the assessing company to fudge the numbers for their advantage so it will be easier to defend by comparing to actual sales? who is to decide what's "accordingly" some $10/hour schmuck who coming up with fake numbers, or the market? By artificially lowering the assessment they denied the people the due process making it impossible to appeal.
GGT May 02, 2012 at 01:34 PM
taxtime: You sound like a local Realtor, or one of the resident town cheerleaders who continue to remain in denial as River Edge burnsTaxes in RE are simply too high, whether it be a MC Mansion or a Reis colonial, or cape. For what the town offers the town cannot justify those taxes. Informed people outside of town laugh now when you mention RE. As far as the 800k house that sold what can I say, poor fool. I can guarantee you that the buyers don't have a clue what is goining on in this town, just like some of the posters here who purchased on the old RE legend in the last few years. It used to be true, it no longer is. As far as people still here, well for some it may not be that easy to move, kids in school etc for others if they bought in the last 8 or 9 years here they are going to most likely take a loss on the sale of their house But I know several people long time residents who will be following others out of town as soon as their kids are done with school. They finally see the writing on the wall What is the upside to staying here? 1 One of the highest taxed towns in Bergen Co. 2 Schools no better or worse than many others in Bergen County. 3. School funding battle with Oradell. 4. Large new multi-family housing units may be coming;one just recently approved. As far as the houses that are coming on, what do you want me to do give you names and addresses? Watch the njmls web site. RE is the like Emperor, it has no clothes. Many people are no longer fooled.
taxtime May 02, 2012 at 02:03 PM
GGT if 65% of residents taxes went down how are taxes going through the roof. You seem to ignore the fact that an 800K house sold within 7 days. And Valley is now out of attorney review. So how are the values declining so much. Houses are not sitting like you say they are. I have seen houses in other towns cost 50% more than they would in RE for the same or less house. I am not sure how you are so sure people are going to take a loss on homes but I guess it depends when they bought the house. Lots of people say they will move but do you think the majority of them will follow through. One of the main benefits of RE is the location. I myself would move to a better town and pay more but the traffic getting there would not make sense so it is a personal decision. Personally I cringe at the people who think spending on the schools is bad. If the schools deteriorate then the town will be undesirable and property values will really fall.
taxtime May 02, 2012 at 02:07 PM
In additon the total amount of taxes are the same. THey merely shifted and allocated taxes based on your house and land. They did not increase everyones taxes. They decreased most peoples taxes. Do you think the 65% are complaining. I agree you can get better value in other towns but you will be farther from New York and other highways, etc. but if that is not important to you then I understand your desire to get out. For me to commute another 20 minutes each way is simply not worth the hassle and I am willing to pay for it.
taxtime May 02, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Mine have also doubled over 10 years and it bothers me too. So to think anyone is happy with the taxes is dumb. I would guess part of this has to be with the decline of retail in River Edge. WHy allow a lot that used to be a Sunoco in town to sit vacant for years. The town should fine businesses for making the town an eyesore.
taxtime May 02, 2012 at 02:20 PM
It bothers me too. The appeal process was not even possible because I did not see my neighbors assessments until after the time to appeal directly with the appraiser was over. So I am paying more than neighbors who have better homes. Do you think I am happy about this.
Dr.Doom May 02, 2012 at 03:00 PM
It wouldn't matter anyway, you can't appeal based on other house assessment you can only appeal based on comparable sales, thats why this artificial under assessment is so important
taxtime May 02, 2012 at 03:03 PM
UNDER Assessment - I agree it is a joke and is unfortunate. I have no way to appeal either.
taxtime May 02, 2012 at 03:17 PM
GGT I am not a realtor nor do I even like many things about the town.
GGT May 02, 2012 at 03:54 PM
taxtime: Sorry I apologize about the realtor comment. However that being said, prices are down over 25% from peak in RE, that is a fact. Spending on schools is fine, except for when it becomes out of control, with the NBC referendum and River Dell, those two tipped the town into spending madness. I did not ignore the sale of the 800k house, I acknowledged it. I simply do not think that someone most probably new to town with no idea what is goining on here, is indicative of the desireaility of the town. You do not have to go 20 minutes more to get the same or better than RE as far as schools, and with less taxes. Convenience in my mind is far outweighed by all the uncertainity facing this town. As far as ignoring, you ignored all of my points in my previous post.
taxtime May 02, 2012 at 05:37 PM
GGT: I did not ignore your points. I agree with them so there is nothing to argue about. I am even starting to wonder if Oradell is a better buy now than River Edge.
TomW May 02, 2012 at 05:37 PM
School spending is needed to attract new residences and keep existing. However the monies should be spent wisely. For example, the laptop initiative at the high school has proven to be a big expense. My child informed me they renewed the leasing plan with HP. I believe it would be more cost effective if each student is provided with a $200 credit/voucher towards the purchase of a laptop. This way the school does not have to worry about maintaining the laptops. Plus the kids will treat their own equipment better.
TomW May 02, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Once the school funding is changed, that'll be more incentive to move to Oradell.
taxtime May 02, 2012 at 05:42 PM
I also think if prices are down 25% from the peak that prices were overinflated at the peak. I think they are down about 10% the last year.
GGT May 02, 2012 at 07:33 PM
taxtime: Of course they were over inflated, and that sense of giddiness and phantom wealth encouraged by self appointed cheerleaders encouraged massive spending, construction renovation on the schools An unitive that Oradell (for the regional schools) vehemently opposed. Now at the end of the day regardless of whether the assessment was fair or not, the bills have to be paid. And yes I believe prices are down 10% from this time last year ( i will verify) for a total of 25%; and we are not done. I believe Oradell is a better buy, and I commend their elected officials for watching out for their residents interests by challenging the funding.
GGT May 02, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Tom W: I have no problem with school spending as long as it is as you say done done in a prudent manner. The massive spending referendums were in my opinion were not wise. Also I had an elected BOE member telll me several years ago, that their job is to provide what THEY believe needs to be provided to proviide a quality education.How muchit cost WAS NOT THIS PERSONS CONCERN. I was absolutely stunned at the time that an elected official would make that comment. It was exactly that attitude in my opinion which leaves us with the mess we have now
gixx May 02, 2012 at 08:24 PM
taxtime: What do you consider a modest home a 1950 ranch? How don’t my numbers make sense?? My assessment stayed the same. The rate went up + 3K in taxes. It’s simple math. I’m sorry if I confused you. The point still remains 22k + for any house in RE is obscene. I see that all you keep asking is where and what size homes people have. So why don’t you share with us where you live and the size of your home. So moving is your answer to the outrageous taxes. As far as moving that is between me and my family. Not you or any other delusional RE resident.
taxtime May 02, 2012 at 10:29 PM
gixx No I do not like ranches. I agree 22K is obscene. I just spoke to someone today whose kids are out of school and is paying $20K and is moving. I am not sure why you call me delusional.I
taxtime May 02, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Do you blame Oradell for challenging the way taxes are done. It is a no brainer. If River Edge paid more per resident then our officials would be challenging the tax formula for the schools as well. Lets not credit their officials when it is the obvious thing to do with taxpayer money. These are elected officials remember and they need VOTES to get reelected.
taxtime May 02, 2012 at 10:33 PM
GIXX if you assessment stayed the same but the majority of the town went down lets see what the officials are saying. they are clearly saying that the supposed $450K house is now closer to $400 while the house you are in which is likely around $750 is still $750. So the market is stronger for houses in the upper range. It is not hard to figure out.
gixx May 07, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Taxtime: That is my point. Once you pass a certain point in taxes the house is no longer worth 750k. It’s going to be worth less to offset the high taxes. So you don’t only pay more in taxes you also get the bonus of loosing value in your home.

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