Government

The Tax Man Cometh: How The Millburn/Short Hills Revaluation of Your Home Will Affect You

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Millburn Township tax attorney John Lloyd. Credits: Jonathan Sym
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John Lloyd explaining tax ratios during the revaluation presentation. Credits: Jonathan Sym
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Millburn Township Committeewoman Jodi Rosenberg congratulating a Josh Howley, a board member of the Red Cross, on a township proclamation that March is officially Red Cross month. Credits: Jonathan Sym
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Deputy Mayor Ian Mount (left) and Mayor Ted Bourke (right). Credits: Jonathan Sym
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MILLBURN, NJ – The process known as “revaluation” occurs from time to time in order for the State and the County to come up with a current value of residential and commercial properties within a district in order to obtain a basis for property taxes.  The last time Millburn was the subject of a revaluation was in 2000 for the 2001 tax year.

The fieldwork for a revaluation is anticipated to take several months, as inspectors must physically enter each property within the Township.  Beginning as early as this spring, inspectors will be visiting homes and businesses until each property has been inspected.  The compiled data will then be sent to the Essex County tax assessor in January of 2017.

“The concept is the same for every property, which is to bring everybody up to 100% of market value.” Said John Lloyd, the Township’s tax attorney during a presentation at Tuesday’s Township Committee meeting.

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The aim of the revaluation is to assess what a property could hypothetically sell for on October 1, 2016.  The theoretical market value of the property on this date along with township and the county budget requirements will determine the ratios and algorithms used to calculate the amount of property taxes we will pay in 2017.

If, for example, your home was recently purchased and assessed at a $1 million market value and your neighbor ‘s house is worth the exactly the same but it was assessed at $650,000 years ago, you are paying more property taxes even you’re your neighbor though your houses are worth the same today.  The revaluation attempts to equalize the values so that everyone pays a fair share.

According to attorney Lloyd, about one third of homeowners will see an increase in property taxes, one third will see a decrease and one third will remain the same.  He said that there is a pattern that has emerged over the years that reasonably predicts the effects of a revaluation on a district scale.

Residential homes are valued by comparable sales figures whilst commercial properties are valued on an income basis (amount of rent collected by the landlord).  Every property from a studio apartment to The Mall at Short Hills will be revalued.  Once the numbers have been finalized, each homeowner will receive a valuation letter along with the results of the inspection.  If a homeowner disagrees with the revaluation figure, there is a means to appeal it.  Attorney Lloyd recommended that every homeowner get a copy of his or her Property Record Card.  More information about your specific property taxes, please visit www.essextaxboard.com and www.state.nj.us.

The Township of Millburn’s effective tax rate is the lowest in Essex County at $1.83 per $100 in 2015.  However, that figure alone is misleading as the rate is based on the value of a municipality’s net valuation and operating budgets.  Though the rate is the lowest in the county, homeowners in Millburn Township actually pay the most property tax dollars in the County because home prices here are relative high.

The net valuation of Millburn Township properties for tax purposes in 2015 was approximately $9.4 billion.  Excluding Newark, with net valuations of approximately $14 billion, the township has the highest property valuation in all of Essex County.  Newark has more than ten times the population of Millburn Township.

The township has the 19th highest average assessed home values in New Jersey in 2014 but residents pay the 2nd highest tax bill in the State.

So where does all this money go?  About 27% goes to the county, 47% goes to support schools and the balance goes to support the municipality including the library. 

Though the actual dollars may seem relatively high, there is a lot of value that residents enjoy for the tax dollars spent, which has recognized nationally.  Millburn’s public schools are amongst the finest in the land according to Niche.com, U.S. News and Business Week; property values have continued to increase according to Karen Eastman Bigos of Towne Realty Group; and the commute to Manhattan is convenient (assuming no rail strikes).

“Education, property values and the commute [to Manhattan] are the three pillars of this town. “ Said Mayor Ted Bourke commenting on the township.  “And I am here to defend it.”

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