Changes on the way for 2012 tax rolls

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MIDDLE TOWNSHIP – About a third of the residential properties in the township will be reassessed for 2012.

Neighborhoods with a high rate of tax appeals and ample property sales are being focused on, said county tax administrator George R. Brown.

He said the goal is to get property assessments close to the real market values and comply with state law. That’s part of a compliance plan, which received county board of taxation approval Tuesday, Oct. 18.

Whether taxes would decrease for some would be based on budgets, such as those for the school district’s and the county library’s, said township tax assessor Lee Ann Russ. As a result of reassessments, the assessed values would be reduced, officials expect.

Property taxes fund much of the budgets for the township and county government, as well as the county library and the school district. Property assessments determine how much each property owner owes, based on a tax rate per $100 of assessed value. So the higher value at which your property is assessed, the larger share of the budget you’re paying.

Most of the time, values and assessments increase over time, but the recession has included a slump in the real estate market, which has meant some properties are assessed at more than their market values. An owner can appeal the assessment to the county tax board.

The compliance plan project would be tackled by two township tax assessor office workers, likely through mid-February, Russ said. It would not cost taxpayers, unless workers would have to put in overtime, she said.

A full reassessment is also planned, which would take effect in 2013, Brown said. With that, some property assessments could be changed again, he said. Russ said the reassessment would be completed in-house.

Reassessments would mean “redistributing the tax burden fairly across Middle Township,” she said.

According to Russ, there are 11,821 taxable properties in the township, as of Wednesday, Oct. 19.

A reassessment is a better option than a revaluation, she said.

A full revaluation would cost around a $1 million, Brown said. The last one in the township lasted more than two years, he said. According Russ, that was for 2007.

“So we are trying to avoid that,” Brown said.

Property assessments are a major topic in the township committee race. The General Elections is Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Democrat Bill Sturm and independent Steve Russell support a revaluation, and Republican candidate Tim Donohue doesn’t.

“Whether Democrats, Republicans or Independents, we are all taxpayers,” Donohue said in a news release. “Since the last reval, property values have dropped and an adjustment in assessments is in order. In doing my homework on the issue, I discovered what the tax professionals outlined last night: that there are legal and effective ways to address the over-assessment issue without adding $1 million in spending as proposed by Sturm and Russell.”


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