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River Edge Reassessments Paying Off, Assessor Says

Borough tax assessor Jim Anzevino reported that on average the town assessment is on the mark when it comes to housing sales with 10% of 2012 sales going for above the newly listed assessment

While the 2012 River Edge reassessment had upset taxpayers, developers and realtors last spring, the borough is now seeing a 90-percent sale ratio with homes going at the assessed price or higher according to tax assessor Jim Anzevino.

Anzevino appeared before the Mayor and Council on Tuesday night to review the 2012 reassessments impact on last year's 90 house sales. The 90 sales did not include any foreclosure or bankruptcy sales or homes that were sold to a private family member.

"On the total aggregate our ratio of sales is 90-percent with a standard deviation of 9.5-percent," Anzevino said. "On average about 10-percent of the sales were higher than the assessed value. This is like an A-."

The standard deviation represents the probability that a homes actual sale price will fall within a plus or minus percentage of the assessed value. According to Anzevino, a standard deviation under 15-percent is the best option.

During his report, he broke down each type of housing and it's standard deviation.

Conventional homes, such as an extended ranch had the lowest standard deviation of 2.40-percent followed by a raised ranch at 3.9-percent and a typical ranch at 5.33-percent.

Any bi-level homes that were sold in 2012 went for their assessed value according to Anzevino. Split-levels, cape cods and a contempory home ranged from a 7.28-percent to 8.42-percent standard deviation.

Due to the large number of colonial homes in River Edge, Anzevino divided the housing market into three groups - those homes built over 50 years, ones built from 1970 to 2000 and any new construction.

The oldest set of colonials had a deviation rate of 11-percent, the middle group was at 7.18-percent and new construction came in at 9.99-percent. 

"The brand new homes actually sold at a higher percentage their their assessed value over other homes," Anzevino said. "It seems like the ration is holding up and the assessments are right now. There is not one style that is doing better than another."

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 November 2010 and then 132 by August 2011.

Anzevino and Rick Del Guercio Jr. of Appraisal Systems Inc., defended the results of the reassessment citing the lack of a housing uniformity in town and a prior 2005 assessment.

The 2012 reassessment moved all homes to an equalized value but had an unintended result that one-third of all residents were going to see a hike in their taxes from $1,000 or more with newer constructed homes with an average tax bill just shy of $30,000 annually.

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Dr.Doom February 20, 2013 at 12:24 PM
Re: new constructions - that's because new buyers dont realise what taxes they will pay. Same new house on the secondary market are being sold for $200K less 2 years later. But that fact conviniently missed.
GGT February 20, 2013 at 02:02 PM
Who would pay 30k a year in property taxes in River Edge!! Insane!!
Alphonse Bartelloni February 20, 2013 at 03:55 PM
Just to clarify one third of properties saw a tax increase. Two thirds saw a decrease. Of the homes that saw an increase only 100 or so saw an increase of over a $1000. As for a home having a $30,000 tax bill only those homes valued at over $800,000 saw a tax bill that high, not all new construction. Those homes were in the 4000 to 5000 square foot range in size.
RiverEdgeFirst February 20, 2013 at 04:44 PM
The appraisal was a sham and shame on Mr Anzevino for trying to justify the re-assessment decision (he is also tax assessor for Cresskill and Dumont). The result of the assessment created an unjustifiable tax rate, taxes above 18K on most construction after 1980 and penalizes homeowners for making home improvements. It remains that tax increases are skyrocketing while salaries are the same or less.
RiverEdgeFirst February 20, 2013 at 04:54 PM
What factual/statistical information do you have to conclude that only 1/3 saw an increase and 2/3 a decrease? Your conclusion is that the 1/3 that saw an increase paid additional taxes to make up for the 2/3 that saw a decrease. This means that 1/3 of the homeowners bear the heaviest tax burden and typically these homes are new construction.
GGT February 20, 2013 at 05:05 PM
Alphonse: In my opinion I don't care how big the house is, 30k a year in River Edge is insane!!
Dr.Doom February 20, 2013 at 07:53 PM
Hey Bartelloni, how do you explain the disparities in the assesemtns described in the attached PDF file?
RiverEdgeFirst February 20, 2013 at 09:15 PM
The attached pdf of 2012 Stats is based primarily on sales during 2010 and 2011. (A good year for home sales?). I agree that the pdf highlights how the assessment undervalued most homes and as a consequence skewed the burden to the quoted '1/3 of properties that saw an increase'. Since the difference in most cases is really between 10-20% (78% of homes sold were assessed 10-20% below market), the result of the assessment was to reduce taxes on most homes and shift the burden to the rest. It would have more equitable for taxes on most properties to have stayed the same and avoid shifting the cost of higher taxes to just a few, some in effect saw nearly 100% increase. As everyone is aware, in spite of the interpretation by our Assessor, the market value of our homes and ability to sell has dropped significantly as prospective buyers factor in the operational expenses of living in River Edge, and of which property taxes are a major factor/consideration.
RiverEdgeFirst February 20, 2013 at 09:33 PM
About 80% of the River Edge property taxes are the primary means to fund our school budget, leaving the mayor and council with a small percentage to work with. It is time to consider changing the funding formula for our schools and the consolidation of educational services, (possibly municipal services). Our governor has agreed to permit a 2% school budget increase every year without local budget approval. In fact I have never seen a school budget decrease ever since. The burden of the school budget should be shifted away from property taxes, to the state level. The shift should lower property taxes, broaden the tax base and leave towns with additional needed funds to build roads and improve the towns. The approach would be combined with consolidation of the educational infrastructure while retaining local control. I believe funding education through property taxes was started by former governor Whitman as a budget gimmick to hide a large deficit.
Alphonse Bartelloni February 20, 2013 at 11:41 PM
River Edge First and Dr. Doom send me an email to my town address abartelloni@riveredgenj.org and I will be happy to respond and speak with you or you can get me before or after a council meeting. GGT I was not suggesting what the taxes should be just pointing out that all new construction was not assessed that high as the article made it sound it was only a few select houses.
GGT February 21, 2013 at 03:03 PM
There is someting wrong when a prospective buyer looks at a 3 bed 1.5 bath cape that has an 11k a year or more tax bill. Buyers will and are looking for other alternatives.
Big Daddy Don Garlits February 22, 2013 at 03:32 PM
Why is it that if I improve my house i must then be punished by higher taxes? By improving my house I am raising the value of all of the surrounding houses. Taxes should be determined by the number of people living in a particular dwelling, not by the size of that dwelling. If i live in a 5000 square foot house by myself, I am using much less services (garbage pickup, schools, utilities) than a family of five with three kids in the school system living in a 1600 square foot ranch. What difference does it make how big my house is? I have to pay the utility bill and and upkeep and taxes for those improvements. The government just keeps taking more and more and we have to keep doing with less and less. No offense, but 20,000 a year to live in RE is crazy. Between what comes out of you paycheck in taxes and what we then have to pay in taxes (property and sales) it's like 65% of your total income. Add in the loss of home value in the past five years and you are lucky if you come close to breaking even when you try to sell.
Alba Cilia February 22, 2013 at 06:17 PM
How, a 400% increase in property taxes over the past 7 years can be justified? When property taxes are more per month than your mortgage something is definitely wrong! Out if control increase of property taxes does not take in account income, forcing many out of their homes. This problem needs to be addressed and urgently!
GGT February 22, 2013 at 09:51 PM
Alba: Don't forget a lot of the out of control property taxes has to do with the out of control spending over the years. Much of this spending was approved by residents via referendums.
Kevin Wright February 23, 2013 at 02:30 PM
Correct me if I am wrong, but I think only retail/office/commercial ratables will work to lessen the tax burden. As I understand it, every residential construction adds to the tax burden because the expense of services outweighs the taxes paid. That's why I thought they exclusively re-zoned the neighborhood south of Main Street in 1987 (?) to allow 60-foot buildings. Based purely on the presence of signage advertising the availability of space, it seems these office buildings have become economic dinosaurs. It is therefore too bad that the redevelopment plan there failed. Looks like Avalon Hackensack at Riverside will become the "transit village" community for New Bridge Landing station. We've been outwitted again. All River Edge has to do is pay for the traffic light to get them across Hackensack Avenue to the train station.
RiverEdgeFirst February 23, 2013 at 06:33 PM
Alphonse can you, the council and mayor, please explain how & why the undervalued assessment is a benefit to River Edge residents? What our assessor has proven is that the lower assessed values will prevent further property tax appeals (this is by his own quoted words). The sham is that the assessment produced 10-20% lower property values (compared to comparable sales in the years preceding the assessment) but it turns out is misleading since, the assessment does not reflect lower taxes, rather the tax ratio is what determines the taxes homeowners pay. River Edge tax rate is 3.065, by comparison Ridgewood is 2.019. A similarly priced home in Ridgewood will have significantly lower taxes compared to River Edge. The RE tax rate is one of the highest in the county. Thus by a sleigh of hand one hand giveth while the other taketh. So, Alphonse, can you explain publicly to residents why we are better off with the results of the assessment, especially to those who are retired, on fixed income or families without kids in school, or to those who saw their taxes rise nearly 100% in one year and to those who are forced to sell their home due to the increased tax burden placed on them by decisions made by their elected officials. I will wait for your response on this forum or at the council meeting on Monday. Thanks
RiverEdgeFirst February 23, 2013 at 06:42 PM
for those interested comparing the tax rates, refer to the uploaded pdf or follow the NJ Treasury link: http://www.state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/pdf/lpt/gtr12ber.pdf
RiverEdgeFirst February 25, 2013 at 01:40 PM
The bottom line is that many families can't afford the property taxes as they are excessive and something needs to change. The poor econmy has contrained salaries and/or those on fixed income are capped while their expenses, driven by spending by elected officials only increase. The current poor econmic cycle or recession started in 2008. To prove the lack of empathy for residents put in difficulty by the new round of taxes lets consider: In 2012 the newly elected mayor and council voted to spend over 1.2Million on infastructure, while unable to justify the immediate or short term need for new trucks and hvac in town office buildings and much more. The prior administration splurged a 1Million budget surplus by purchasing two useless and unneded properties, one is an empty lot and the other property is condemmed due to molds. The owners of the town shopping center, major source of tax revenue was permitted by the mayor and councel, to be demolished, without a committment to build, and in spite of many pledges to the contrary still remains for years an empty lot. We spent over 500k in the HS renovation just for field astro-turf. Every senior receives a free computer, paid for by residents. The voting decisions taken by most resident are based on incomplete information and driven by misleading information, such as the educational budget is necessary to maintain high resale values. We have three superintedents, while only one is necessary.
GGT February 25, 2013 at 02:09 PM
Kevin: If retail wanted to come to River Edge, they would, the reality is they have not, and it appears they don't want to.
GGT February 25, 2013 at 02:11 PM
River Edgefirst: I don't think the mayor and council can prevent a property owner from tearing down their property.
RiverEdgeFirst February 25, 2013 at 03:15 PM
It is possible, but doesn't demolishing a large retail property require permits? Were no construction plans presented? Did a government agency (local/state) condemn the property to justify demolition? There were environmental issues that apparently were resolved early last spring, and some discussion about state funds to aid the reconstruction, with no apparent reconstruction progress. The owners are paying tax on undeveloped land not on the improvements (a mall). The lack of retail space and associated tax revenues are causing a larger tax burden on everyone else and potentially steering away current businesses or dis-incentivizing new business, as has been reported.
RiverEdgeFirst February 25, 2013 at 03:18 PM
GGT, maybe we need an ordinance that requires empty lots/property that had been developed, to be redeveloped within a few years.

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