LIVINGSTON, NJ — Although the township was not legally able to postpone the May 1 deadline for second-quarter property taxes, the governing body of Livingston has extended the grace period to June 1 and has also lowered the interest rate for delinquent taxes in accordance with Gov. Phil Murphy’s recent executive order allowing municipalities to do so.

A special township council meeting was held on Friday in order to adopt a resolution officially allowing this extension in the Township of Livingston, meaning that taxpayers will be able to pay property taxes up until June 1 rather than May 11 without penalty or interest. A second resolution, which was adopted the previous week to lower the interest rate on delinquent property taxes to 6 percent, was amended on Friday to reflect the new date as well.

“Prior to [the governor’s new executive order], we had been correctly informing the public that we had no legal option to extend the grace period—which, in this case, would have been May 11, after which the interest accrues on delinquent second-quarter taxes,” said Township Manager Barry Lewis. “What we did do last Monday was pass a resolution lowering the interest rate on second-quarter delinquent taxes to 6 percent, and that resolution provided for the interest to accrue after May 11 in accordance with what was then the grace period. Subsequent to that, the governor issued an executive order allowing municipalities to extend the grace period to June 1.”

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Lewis reiterated that May 1 remains the official due date for property taxes and that the interest rate will be charged retroactively back to May 1 beginning on June 2.

In order to explain the importance of paying property taxes on time, the governing body recently reminded residents that the township is not only responsible for the billing and collection of all property taxes—including municipal, school and county taxes—but is also obligated to pay the Livingston Board of Education and Essex County 100 percent of their assessed taxes each quarter, regardless of how much the township actually collects. 

In Livingston, the combined school and county taxes make up more than 80 percent of every tax dollar billed and collected. Therefore, if the township were only able to collect 80 percent of the taxes in the second quarter, for instance, the township would need to distribute 100 percent of the collected taxes between the board of education and the county—leaving the township with no revenue to continue to provide essential services. 

In the interest of “easing the economic burden on residents to the greatest extent possible,” the council unanimously voted in favor of both actions on Friday morning, officially implemented the only two forms of taxpayer relief that are legally available at this time.

Each council member also took the opportunity to commend Lewis and his staff for providing guidance on such matters after doing his due diligence to speak with elected officials across the state and conducting the necessary research to make an informed recommendation to the mayor and council.

“These are two tools to be able to provide relief to our residents, and we obviously wanted to discuss taking advantage of both of those,” said Mayor Rudy Fernandez. “The new executive order was very nuanced and it raised a bunch of...Barry and [Township Attorney Sharon Weiner] went through the language and reached out and got clarification from the governor’s office […] and we appreciate all their efforts in—and in a very short period of time—dealing with the state.

“Many of them weren’t quite sure what we were able to and not able to do, but we got answers very quickly from them and were able to put these [resolutions] together. So we’re doing what we can, we’re doing what we now have the authority to do.”

Residents can make payments online at livingstonnj.org/PropertyTaxes, by mail, or using the silver drop box behind Livingston Town Hall (located at 357 S. Livingston Avenue).

The township did not receive any comments or questions from the public on this particular topic, but invites residents to do so during future meetings.

All Livingston Township Council meetings are currently being held online via Zoom and streamed live on the township’s Facebook page. Public input, questions and comments relating to the Council meetings should be sent to livcomments@livingstonnj.org.