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Reassessments Hitting Residents Hard

After spending $174,000 in a reassessment, River Edge officials and residents did not get the expected results

"I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so," summed up Mayor Sandy Moscaritolo's reaction to the news about the River Edge reassessment results. Out of the 83-page report the majority of homes will see a reduction in their assessed value but at the same time those residents seeing an increase ranging from 16% to 109%.

"The reassessment was a bad idea," Moscaritolo said. "It's a shell game to move numbers around and its opened a can of worms. Residents who had newer construction homes, did work or made improvements will bear the brunt of the reassessment. I have two words for you 'tax appeal.'"

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 .

Two families who were hit the hardest by the reassessment were Raymond Frost of Lozier Terrace with a 16.27% increase and Dominick and Anna D'agostino of Oak Avenue saw a 10.79% hike.

Frost who bought his home in 2008 underwent the last reassessment at that time for a tax bill of $10,000. The new construction home was built the prior year for an assessed value of $540,300 - today it stands at $628,200.

"When I bought the house the taxes were $10,000," Frost said. "I'm now paying $14,000 and under the new assessment my taxes increase to $19,000. What I want to understand is how in three years my taxes have increased by 90%. I looked at homes in Oradell and Franklin Lakes, but now my family may have to move out of town, out of state even. I'll be honest, I can't afford $19,000 in taxes."

According to Frost prior to the reassessment he had considered finishing his Dutch basement but now won't consider making any improvements.

"I compared homes around my size with ones in Oradell and Franklin Lakes, and my taxes here are the highest. In Franklin Lakes I could have a bigger lot and pay less taxes. I absolutely would not have bought this home today. I can't even sell it for what I bought it at, my assessed value is higher than it was in 2008 and so are the taxes."

The D'Agastino's who only moved into River Edge last year after getting married also purchased a newer construction (built in 2009) to create a better life for themselves. Their 2011 assessment sat at $734,700 and jumped to $814,000 with a $24,000 tax bill to cover.

"After one year in town we're paying $19,700 in taxes and with the new assessment we'd be paying $24,000," Dominick D'Agastino said. "What are we getting for $24,000 a year?"

The D'Agastino's both still work in their former home of Garfield - Dominick as a physician and Anna in the school district. They have no children in the school system and did not make any improvements to their home after its purchase.

"Half of her salary will pay our taxes," Dominick D'Agastino said. "We moved here to better ourselves and have the house of our dreams. Now we want to put a for sale sign on the house because we're being priced out of town."

"I'm a teacher," Anna D'Agastino said. "I work after school tutoring, Saturday programs, I can't work any more. "We didn't make any improvements and we don't have any children. By time we might have children in the system we would have spent $100,000 in taxes. It's a beautiful hom but there is nothing to separate it from other homes that are paying less. I feel like I'm being robbed. I never wanted to have a bad taste in my mouth from living in River Edge and now am upset. I don't want to feel that way about the community we live in. I just don't understand how with nothing being done (to the house) the assessment could go up."

Approximately 254 homeowners out of 1,000 will see their assessment go up but it will come with an aggregate $9,000 increase overall. Even those residents who will see a decrease in their assessment may still see a tax hike in the end.

"We were advised by the tax assessor to go forward with this to save us from being killed by lawsuits," Council President Paul Cordts. "Most of us are shocked by how it game out. I have friends who jumped $7,000 to $8,000 and then on the other end, friends with larger houses who are getting a tax reduction.

Residents who have questions about their reassessment or would like to have it reviewed can contact Appraisal Systems at 201-493-8530.

Tax Assessor James Anzevino and a representative from Appraisal Systems will be invited to a future council meeting to explain the reassessment formula and how residents got the results they did.

re resident March 06, 2012 at 04:01 PM
This article does not seem to be relaying the complete picture. 25% of taxpayers saw increase, that means 75% saw a decrease or remain the same. Almost every house that saw an increase is one that did substantial work or was a rebuilt yet was still being taxed at the old value, while 1959 build houses with no work were paying more. It is funny to see an elected official complain about the reassessment as they just happen to have had their taxes increase over 75%. Maybe that is skewing their comment?
re resident March 06, 2012 at 04:03 PM
In addition, Mr. Frost's house was valued 140,000 less than his neighbors, which was the exact same build. So from what the numbers show, the reassessment brought values in line and reduced the disparity.
Stuart Weissman March 06, 2012 at 06:20 PM
That's alright. The mayor of Montclair called people who appealed their taxes unpatriotic.
WATCHING RE March 06, 2012 at 11:07 PM
I guess the mayor would be against a reassessment. I mean if I had a house with an addition and a pool and was paying the same taxes as an original 3 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath colonial I would feel the same way. Then again, maybe our elected officials should be doing more looking out for themselves.
Wishful Thinking March 07, 2012 at 01:29 PM
I am not clear on the impact this reassessment will have on property taxes. Now, because on paper, my home has been reassessed way below its current standing does this mean my property tax payments will go down with the next tax bill?
Eamon Harbord (Editor) March 07, 2012 at 01:39 PM
That is a possibility Jennifer. If you call the tax office at 201-599-6311 they will be able to explain in detail
TomW March 07, 2012 at 01:49 PM
The town's operation depends on taxes collected. If the town is now receiving less revenue due to the reassessment then the officials would have to adjust the tax rate to compensate for the lost of revenue. So our savings are really not real. Our property is just worth less in the current market. Best way to decrease taxes is to curb spending!
Alphonse Bartelloni March 07, 2012 at 01:50 PM
If your home was reassessed at more than 12 percent below its prior assessment you should see a reduction.
Speford melpin March 07, 2012 at 05:38 PM
And all our taxes for what? What services? None! And dont play the "Great school" card. The schools here waste a TON of money!
GGT March 07, 2012 at 06:21 PM
If the guys other choices were Franklin Lakes or Oradell that is where he should have moved to.
Fred Jones March 07, 2012 at 07:04 PM
You mean the tax man finally caught up with our new mayor? It does make sense that if the rest of us pay taxes at a true market valuation, he should too...about time.
Anne Carter March 08, 2012 at 03:22 PM
The majority of taxes go to the schools. Every time a referendum comes up for a tax increase, it is for the schools and if we don't approve of it we are told how our children are going to suffer and the schools threaten we are going to lose our art or music or technology programs. If it is for town we are told we will lose our police and become overrun with crime! (Scare tactics) How about if River Edge and Oradell consolidate the towns and the schools and the services they provide to the tax payers of both towns, so that we can reduce administrative and nonessential costs in the school systems and governmental services in both towns? Other towns are doing this such as Princeton Township and Princetown Boro - they have chosen to combine the two towns into one thereby reducing their administrative costs with one Mayor, one Superintendent, one Police Chief, one Tax Assessor, one Department of Public Works etc . If someone bought an expensive home or did a complete renovation on an older home AND do not have children in the school - they will feel the tax burden the most BUT they are generally in an income bracket which has been LEAST effected by the economic downturn. They are the most financially able to weather the storm. Those of us who are more vulnerable and in a lower income bracket or the retired elderly feel the sting of what's happend in town and in the country the most and if this reassessment helps those folks, then it is a good thing.
Matthew S. Clement, CFP®, AIF® March 08, 2012 at 07:06 PM
It's worth noting that a town's tax levy changes not one dime as a result of a reassessment. The only goal of a reassessment is to properly value the RELATIVE prices of the homes in the town. There will be cases where the assessment of a particular property is inaccurate, and in such cases, it's appropriate to challenge the assessment. But an increase is not, in and of itself, a reason to challenge your assessment, and doing so ends up further distorting the time- and value-relative assessment.
mmm March 08, 2012 at 07:36 PM
The town's problems for the most part are self inflicted.
commonsense March 08, 2012 at 08:29 PM
If my math is correct the tax rate went up almost 14% with the reassessment, so it offsets the lesser property value. The only people benefiting from the reassessment is the company that collected almost $200,000 for doing it. And wait until those residents that saw their property values rise start appealing this hit and run reassessment. What a waste of tax payer's money!
River Edger March 13, 2012 at 12:41 AM
I think consolidating the resources of Oradell and River Edge is a fine idea, Anne. It makes perfect sense. But it will ever happen. There is such unspoken snobbery at play here, that the residents of Oradell would never agree to this.
RR March 20, 2012 at 11:07 PM
River edge will be placed in top 3 towns for highest tax rate. I also find myself wondering why are taxes sky high in river edge the services offered are no more than the average Bergen county town. Unfortunately this increase will force many families to move out.....
Dr.Doom March 22, 2012 at 12:55 AM
look on a bright side - people will start selling houses. Prices will drop again, appeals here we go... Then another reassesment in 3-5 years - visious cycle just had been started ...
rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr March 22, 2012 at 06:34 PM
why would the mayor say this is bad. does he live in a huge house.
Dr.Doom March 27, 2012 at 01:06 AM
can you explain the reasoning behind that weird way to reasses? You dont want to anyone to be able appeal by artificially lowering the assesment for everyone and placing different discounts on different price levels? Based on sales records for the 2010-2011 (that were used for the reassesment) on average houses were assessed 12% lower then actual sale price (shouldnt it be same as sales price???) houses $700K+ were assessed 6% lower than the sales price houses $400K-$700K were assessed 15% lower than sales price houses bellow $400K were assessed 6% lower than the sales price
commuter April 11, 2012 at 11:06 PM
The HS is already consolidated: River [Edge] [Ora]Dell HS, but combining the towns makes sense. I doubt the council members would agree to lose their jobs, though. I, for one, was about to purchase a newer home in River Edge, until I learned of the already-high tax going up another 30% next year. It's a shame, since the town's location is ideal for my family (nice location, but not enough to justify the taxes).

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