NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - After New Brunswick completed the first revaluation of property in 26 years, municipal leaders were anxious to share news that taxes for many homeowners had dropped.
Mayor James Cahill, in his state of the city address on Jan. 1, touted the city has the second lowest property taxes in the county.
Not everyone was happy with the revaulations, and as a result the city was faced with a slew of tax appeals, and the cost of fighting those appeals.
City council members at their meeting early this month increased allocations from $195,000 to $225,000 to pay for lawyers representing the New Brunswick in tax appeals.
The law firm of Hoagland Longo, Moran, Dunst & Doukas, which is based in the city, handles that work for New Brunswick. There are still appeals that have yet to be resolved.
"Commercial properties have been involved in most of the appeals," said City Attrorney T.K. Shamy.
According to city figures, there were 452 appeals filed last year, which was actually less than the 471 appeals filed in 2017.
Both of those numbers of appeals are less than were seen in early years, according to Cahill's office. The re-education in appeals is viewed as a positive sign, said city spokeswoman Jennifer Bradshaw.
She said municipalities typically see many more appeals after a revaluation.
“This indicates that our 2017 revaluation had a very high level of acceptance by the city's property owners," Bradshaw said.
Following the new valuation of all city property, the average residential property tax bill dropped about $700, from an average of $6,870 per property in 2016 to $6,164 in 2017, according to figures from the state Department of Community Affairs.
About 2,500 property owners saw their tax bill go down, but another 1,500 owners saw their bill increase. About 1,000 owners saw little or no change through the revaluation.
The effect of the appeals from 2018 is not immediately clear. The city did not immediartely respond to questions about whether appeals resulted in significant reductions in property tax bills, or how the appeals would impact city revenues.