Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo to switch to a countywide tax assessor system in Atlantic County through shared services and consolidation was approved Monday by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Mazzeo said in a press release, “I was proud of the many shared service ventures I initiated when I was Mayor of Northfield. I know how much taxpayer dollars we can save when government operates smaller and smarter,” said Mazzeo. “Despite the attempts to spread misinformation about the tremendous success of Gloucester County’s model, I know the potential Atlantic County's implementation of a similar plan holds and I am focused on ending the strain on taxpayers that is caused by over 10,000 property tax appeals a year.”
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Joining Mazzeo in bipartisan support of this legislation is Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson.
Mazzeo’s legislation (A-4839) would consolidate and shift the tax assessment function from the municipality to the county. The bill was specifically designed for Atlantic County, taking the best of both models of assessment – the Gloucester County program and the addition of the updated calendar from Monmouth County’s program.
All but two of Atlantic County’s 23 municipalities face potential increases in their county tax rates under this year’s proposed county budget, according to figures released Wednesday by county Administrator Jerry DelRosso.
Among other things, the Mazzeo bill would also give first priority in the new countywide tax assessor’s office to current municipal assessors working in Atlantic County and allow the county assessor to waive the revaluation requirement for municipalities who have completed accurate revaluations in the past 5 years. It would abolish the county tax administrator position and have an option to hire experts in the field of commercial, farmland, and casino tax ratables and assessment. The bill would allow the use of county tax board trust fund monies to help offset the costs of software and hardware necessary for countywide assessment and it would change the requirements for the notification of annual tax assessments to taxpayers as well as require a report on the progress of savings and functions of the office following 40 months.
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Currently, only Gloucester County is authorized to take part in the pilot program, which is already producing a savings of $2.3 million dollars a year for Gloucester taxpayers by creating a countywide tax assessor’s office to remove the duplicitous and unnecessary burden on individual municipalities.
“By expanding the program to Atlantic County, we can save taxpayers millions a year and streamline assessments so that every town gets an identical and fair process,” added Mazzeo. “With almost every municipality at or near true value, the time is right for Atlantic County to enter the 21st century and end the practice of spending millions of dollars on outside revaluations once and for all.”