Noting that some municipalities have resisted for years and sometimes decades efforts to account for increases in home prices that may affect their residents’ property tax obligations or reduce their share of state aid, Senator Mike Doherty (R-23) praised the New Jersey Division of Taxation’s announcment that it will conduct an investigation to determine whether to order revaluations in Jersey City, Dunellen and Elizabeth, followed by future investigations of additional municipalities.
“For years, I’ve worked to highlight the fact that some towns have massively gamed the system to shift their property tax burden to others and collect state aid they don’t deserve,” said Doherty. “Today’s announcement is recognition that they should no longer be given a free ride at everyone else’s expense.”
According to the Division of Taxation, it has determined that the municipalities targeted for investigation appear to be the most dramatically out of compliance with Constitutional and statutory provisions requiring fair and uniform property tax assessments.
Elizabeth has not conducted a revaluation in 39 years. Dunellen and Jersey City have not updated assessments in 33 years and 27 years, respectively.
Two years ago, Doherty highlighted Jersey City’s abuse of outdated property valuations and tax abatements to shift its property tax burden to state income taxpayers and other Hudson County property taxpayers.
“Over the nearly three decades since Jersey City’s last revaluation in 1988, the ‘New Jersey Gold Coast’ city has seen a substantial redevelopment and increased demand,” said Doherty. “Despite a booming real estate market that has enriched homeowners, many Jersey City residents continue paying taxes as if they couldn’t give their homes away. Even worse, the rest of New Jersey has been forced to pick up the tab while city officials have resisted efforts to be held accountable for their own spending.”
Doherty noted that revaluations in some of these towns may reduce the property tax burden on the rest of New Jersey.
“Jersey City, for example, gets more than $400 million a year in state school funding from a finite pool of state aid that’s available annually, while most rural and suburban towns get next to nothing,” added Doherty. “If revaluations are ordered and result in the residents of those towns and cities paying a greater share of their own school expenses, there may be more state aid available for the rest of us. Every extra dollar our towns get from the state is a dollar less that our property taxpayers have to pay.”
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