August 22, 2014 at 4:15 PM
NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Taking a long-awaited step into the digital age, North Plainfield property owners now have the ability to view and pay their property taxes and sewer bills online.
In what may be a surprise to many residents, however, is that their property tax and sewer payment histories are also online for anyone to view. The records go back to payments due in February 2013 and include future payments through the middle of 2015.
“This information has always been public record,” said Borough Administrator David Hollod. “We hope that being able to access it and make payments online will be more convenient for residents and free up staff time as well.”
When this year’s sewer bills went out a few thousand were not delivered properly, and people had to call or visit Borough Hall to find out how much was due on their property. In addition to re-mailing the bills, the Borough had to use the media, e-mail and the town’s emergency radio system to notify property owners.
With the new system in place the solution would have been much simpler, as property owners could have viewed and paid their bills in a few minutes.
The available data includes the property owner’s name, street address, block and lot, type of property (residential or business), assessed values, payment history, and upcoming payments due. In order to find information on a property a searcher can use block and lot, owner’s name, property address or tax account ID.
“Being able to pay our taxes online is cool, but I didn’t realize I could view everyone’s information and they could view mine,” said one homeowner who asked not to be identified. “To have direct access to others tax information is a little abnormal to me. I’m old school.”
As Hollod noted, this data has always been available to the public. Anyone who was interested in finding this information could go to Borough Hall and request a photocopy for a few cents.
Resident Michelle Coslit isn’t too worried about people scoping out neighbor’s information just for curiosity. “Nine out of ten people probably wouldn’t look at their neighbor’s information,” she said. “And the ones who would are probably the ones who would go down to Borough Hall.”
The information can be useful for property owners preparing a tax appeal. Residents know which homes in their neighborhood are similar to theirs, and a quick search can find out if assessed values and tax payments are comparable.
“We would welcome people making more and better tax appeals based on this service,” said Hollod. “The Borough is always interested in making sure properties are assessed properly and fairly.”