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Reassessment Plans Move Forward Following 132 Tax Appeals

Hit by 132 tax appeals, River Edge looks to bring housing assessments in line with the current economy

Back in  borough tax assessor James Anzevino informed the council that the borough had been slammed with 150 tax appeals for last year. And this year, the trend has continued with approximately 132 appeals filed.

"I've put together a draft proposal that has been sent off to two other towns about doing a joint bid for reassessments," CFO Alan Negreann said. "If you want this assessment to take place in 2012, you need a funding mechanism for that to happen. So we have an ordinance drafted for a special emergency ordinance for $230,000 to be repaid over a five-year span."

According to Negreann, the five year payment would be approximately $46,000 per year. A full hearing by the public will take place during the September council meeting.

But the potential price tag was more than Democrat councilmen Sandy Moscaritolo and John Cannon expected.

"When James Anzevino gave us his presentation, he quoted a figure of $140,000 and now we have a proposal for $230,000," Moscaritolo said. "I just don't think we can afford to spend this much money."

"I'm not sure it benefits out taxpayers," Cannon added. "It benefits us while we're budgeting, but spending $230,000 of taxpayers money, I'm not sure they will get a return on that." 

Unlike a reelavuation that looks at every home in the borough, a reassessment instead looks at clusters of neighborhoods to determine the value of an area.

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.

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.

Anzevino will appear at the August 22 meeting to update the Council on the status of the tax appeal situation.

Alphonse Bartelloni August 09, 2011 at 08:21 PM
GCT, you are right to the extent that taxes raised to support our schools constitutes about 65% to 70% of our tax bill. If $0 money was spent on municipal government, the average person in this town would still have a tax bill of about $8000.00. That is why we need to focus on responsible redevelopment, that strives to maximize commercial and retail development and minimizes residential. I do not believe that the three projects that were approved by prior councils had that balance. This current council can't and won't continue to look to the past or say we inherited any problems, we are looking to the future and ways to revitalize our town, not just the south end but throughout the Kinderkamack Corridor.It will be tough in this economic climate, but anyworth worth doing is not usually easy to do.
Gregg Cariddi August 09, 2011 at 10:44 PM
We spent millions on Cherry Hill, Roosevelt and River Dell because that is all we have. Yes, I know, some people are tired of hearing that statement, but it is true. Why are people moving to River Edge? OUR SCHOOL SYSTEM! I voted yes for all of the school budgets and the renovations because it is all we have and I truly believe in our school system. Being a graduate of both Cherry Hill and River Dell, it was nice to see them update the school and rooms and equipment that were old when I was there. We had a downtown until the owners of the H&K property decided to kick the businesses out. Those stores were doing fine. The residents of the southern end had a pharmacy to go to, a pizzeria and a deli. Now they have nothing. Why is it that it seems that the residents in the southern end of town seem to always be on the short end of the stick? No stores and oh, yes no park. The building should have been renovated and NOT torn down.
GGT August 09, 2011 at 11:35 PM
Gregg: Away from HK, that does not address all the other grandiose plans that were going to materialize down there, that some more realistic residents in town knew was never going to happen. At the end of the day the loss of H&K which was a corporate bankruptcy spelled the end of that mall. People would go out of their way to get to H&K because of the reputation it had. Once that was gone, the owner sought which is their right a better use of the property. As I said before they took a gamble and lost. But at the end of the day it was their right to tear it down, much as that may have negatively impacted the town. As far as the schools spending 23 million on NBC and another 25 million on RIver Dell was excessive. Keep in mind we had just finished an addition to both Roosevlet and CH on year before the BOE came back with the plan for NBC. All other alternatives would not work. Spending that kind of money on additions plus all the additional costs of running them was and is in my mind reckless for a small town with no real rateables except SFH's. ALso keep in mind our friends and neighbors in Oradell voted no for that RD referendum;perhaps that is why we have the funding fight today. It appears the residents in Oradell understand that high taxes are not a selling point. We need to getaway from the constant cheerleading of thats why people move here etc. There are lots of For Sale signs around town so right now people are not banging down the door to move here.
commonsense August 09, 2011 at 11:38 PM
River Edge is going to spend over $200,000 to reassess only certain neighborhoods? If there are neighborhoods not revalued can they still appeal? This plan may not result in the big legal cost savings the town is hoping for. Not to mention River Edge is going to have to do a full revaluation in 2016.
GGT August 09, 2011 at 11:42 PM
Al $8,000 a year before school taxes is in my mind obscene. Than throw in the schooll portion and I assume thats why we have modest houses in town with 12 and 13K a year and more in property taxes Obviously mistakes were made in the past, including the out of control additions/renovations on the schools. Good luck with the redevelopment but you and I both know it is not happening. If it did not happen in the boom times it is not happening now. We also have it confirmed from the NJ Transit Village represetative, that there is no demand for retail at the south end of down due to proximity to Paramus.
river edge mom August 09, 2011 at 11:47 PM
So the town will borrow $230,000 and pay it back over 5 years. Then it will have to borrow maybe double (?) that money in 2016 to do a reevaluation that is required by the state. Wasn't the town promised the borrowing would stop?
river edge mom August 10, 2011 at 12:47 AM
GGT- where is the article that talks about a NJ transit village?
Mary Anne August 10, 2011 at 01:07 AM
It is ironic that the current council thinks spreading the deferred pension payments over 5 years to reduce property taxes was not a fiscally responsible idea yet paying off the cost of a partial reassessment of River Edge over 5 years is an acceptable financial practice.
GGT August 10, 2011 at 01:15 AM
The article was several weeks back on this site. I believe the title was something to the effect that Transit Village plans finalized. In it the expert from NJ Transit states that the only viable retail down there is what he called convenience retail for residents that will be living down there when the housing is built. Convenience retail is something like a 7-Eleven, or Carousel. He stated there is no demand for any other retail due to proximity to Paramus. Myself and others have been saying this since this redevelopment pipe dream first started almost 10 years ago!!!!
GGT August 10, 2011 at 01:17 AM
Perhaps they are expecting a deluge of more tax appeals, and there may be a savings doing it this way. Prices are declining and will continue to in the years ahead.
GGT August 10, 2011 at 01:22 AM
Al Sorry my error I should have said $8,000 a year on the school portion, before the municipal portion kicks in is scary. No end to the increases in sight obviously. Oh and by the way I am also right on the redevlopment too; it is not happening. As far as the school budget our votes were over turned. Next year it won't be an issue as we will just stay home.
Alphonse Bartelloni August 10, 2011 at 02:34 AM
GGT I hope you don't stay home. But the school board did the right thing by using state aid to reduce the tax furlough. This reduction was more then the amount of reduction proposed by some members on the council. As for the reassessment we don't want to borrow any money, and ultimately we may not, but last year the town lost $300000 in tax appeals and will lose properly the same this year. The town cannot continue to provide services at current levels with these losses in revenue. Our budget is already below what it was in 2008. Sadly we have no longer have a safety net in place for tough times like these. That money was spent. As for redevelopment I believe it can get done, it may be different from what was previously proposed , but it can be done.
GGT August 10, 2011 at 01:10 PM
Al I thank the BOE for returning that money, but a part of me says it was done fro PR purposes after so many were dismayed that the results of the budget vote were over turned. What is the point f voting no next year, only to have the same people come out again and demand the M&C approve it. Will the M&C defend the results of the vote if it is no again, or will they cave in? I fully understand why th town may have to pay to the do the reval and how it will ultimately save money for the town. I am just really angry that a town that was prudent, always had a surplus, had good schools etc, turned into an out of control spending machine, and we are where we are now. Something is very wrong with a town that went from one of the lowest taxed towns in Bergen Co, (with good schools), to one of the highest taxed towns. Al as far as redevelopment, thanks for being the first Council member to acknowledge that any sort of redevelopment we may get,may not be the grandiose pipe dream, that so many residents thought it would be.
R.E. family August 11, 2011 at 07:55 PM
The more I think about this the more it does not make sense for our town. As a reg. republican I am surprised republican council members are considering this. Spend money you do not have in hopes that it will save us money in the long run (no guarantees) . Be careful, you think it will save money but it is my understanding with the outcome of a reassessment: a third of the homes taxes go down, a third stay the same and a third go up. For sure the town will see challenges and appeals from the reassessment. In addition, it will no doubt negatively effect the market value in River Edge. Recession or no recession, River Edge is considered a high taxed town and this does effect our home values. I really think you need to stop looking at the res. taxpayer and focus on bringing business into town. This will help with the cost of appeals and so much more. Unfortunately, if it is not possible to bring businesses into our town we need to cut spending. Plain and simple. We cannot keep looking to the taxpayer for everything and raising a third of the homes taxes in town would be wrong.
Gregg Cariddi August 11, 2011 at 08:48 PM
What was not mentioned in both this article and the one in the Town News is what Councilman Moscaritolo stated. Every tax assessor is allowed a 15% margin of error in the tax ratio. River Edge is within that 15%. Everyone keeps stating that we are at 88%. The 88% was in 2009. For 2010 and 2011 that figure is at 92%. So if our ratio is coming up, then why are we spending money for the reassessment?? The town appears to be correcting itself. If we were well below the 15% margin of error, say the low 80's or even the 70's, then by all means, spend away. The reassessment will cost us $46,000 for the next five years. Then it will be time to do a re-evaluation and bond all over again, at a much higher cost. People are going to appeal their taxes whether we have a reassessment or not.
R.E. family August 11, 2011 at 08:53 PM
Very good point.
Alphonse Bartelloni August 11, 2011 at 11:59 PM
http://www.co.bergen.nj.us/taxboard/2010%20abstract.pdf 88.88% not 92%
GGT August 12, 2011 at 05:14 PM
Gregg: And in 5 years houses will be worth even less, and a 3 bedroom 1 .5 bath cape with have a tax bill approaching 15k or more. Yep, all is well.
GGT August 12, 2011 at 05:16 PM
REFamiy: Again I ask, how do we focus on bringing in business to River Edge?? If business is going to come anywhere period, it will be coming to Paramus. Have you noticed all the vacant commercial property on 4 and 17?
Gregg Cariddi August 16, 2011 at 03:51 AM
Alphonse, thank you for clarifying the ratio percentage. I was merely stating what was mentioned at the August 1st meeting. I hope that more information will be available from the tax assessor, Mr. Anzevino, at the upcoming council meeting on the 22nd. Again, if we are within the 15% "window" then why are we doing this? I really don't think that this will stop the appeals or even reduce them. Since 2005 our ratio has been within the allowable 15%, with the exception of 2009 when we were at 84.84%. A comment was made at the August 1st meeting that the reassessment will shift the burden of the taxes onto the commercial properties. I thought that most of our largest successful appeals in the past few years were from those same commercial properties, that had the tax burden placed on them in 2005. So if were are looking to shift the burden onto them once agian, won't they just file another appeal? And we're trying to attract and keep businesses in town but yet we openly talk about shifting our towns tax burden onto them. Isn't that a little counterproductive? I keep hearing the "loss of services" cry if we don't do something about the taxes. If I am paying $10K+ in taxes, I had better have excellent services. Do you really think that laying people off, eliminating positions or privatizing services/duties is going to save our taxes?? I don't think so.
Alphonse Bartelloni August 16, 2011 at 09:06 AM
If you continue to lose $300000 a year in revenue as a result of tax appeals, then you have two choices raise everyone else's taxes to offset that lose or to reduce your budget by an equal amount. A reduction in the budget can only mean a lose in manpower. As for a shift from residential to commercial, in some towns that recently did reassessments this was one of the outcomes. It would not be intentional it is merely a possibility that the ratio would shift, it is not a certainty and there is no effort to target our commercial property owners.
commonsense August 16, 2011 at 12:07 PM
So much for attracting business to River Edge!
Alphonse Bartelloni August 16, 2011 at 12:51 PM
Commonsense, Commensense should tell you that the reassessment would not result in a paradigm shift in the ratio between commercial and residential, and would have no impact in attracting business to this town.
R.E. family August 16, 2011 at 02:15 PM
Stop with the taxpayer. Cut spending and lower the budget! There are plenty of other towns with good services and lower property taxes home buyers can choose from in Bergen county alone.
GGT August 17, 2011 at 01:11 AM
Refamily: Now you have gone and done it. Don't you know we are excepional, and better than all the other towns?? That is what some resiednts believe and use to justify the insane taxes. Meanwhile taxes are killing the town, but they refuse to acknowledge that.
Gregg Cariddi August 21, 2011 at 05:28 PM
It has historically been 1/3 see no tax increase, 1/3 see an increase and 1/3 stay the same. And what you are leaving out is that one appeal was $182K+ this year and that appeal was to a commercial property. If you take that single tax appeal out of the mix, our tax appeals so far for 2011 are around $127K. So when we're throwing around the "OMG we're over 300K in appeals" make sure ALL of the facts come out.
Alphonse Bartelloni August 21, 2011 at 09:35 PM
Gregg I agree all the facts should come out.
Alphonse Bartelloni August 21, 2011 at 09:37 PM
Full disclosure to the taxpayers is very important.
Maryann G. August 22, 2011 at 11:53 AM
I would gladly trade reductions in services and crappy schools for SANE property taxes. There. I said it. My family was one of the first to live in the borough (back when it was Riverside) - once upon a time it was a nice and very reasonably-priced place to live, not any more. IMO, there's nothing the town has to offer that justifies the obscene amounts we pay in taxes. Expect my property to be joining the ranks of the "for sale" signs in the near future.
Michael Jordan March 03, 2012 at 01:57 AM
It's just a tax scam again in RE. MJ

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