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Paterson's Website Falls Short on Property Records

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PATERSON, NJ – Former mayor Thomas Rooney recently did some searches among the property records available on the city’s website. He checked for any home sales in Paterson’s Eastside neighborhood in 2011 and found none. He tried South Paterson and Totowa section and again found no sales listed for last year.

Rooney’s search for the Lakeview and Hillcrest neighborhood were not so futile.  For each of those he found one sale in 2011.

“That’s impossible to believe,’’ said Rooney.

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Indeed, city officials acknowledge the property records on the Paterson municipal website have not been updated lately. There’s no legal requirement that the city out the information online. It’s all available at the city tax offices.

But the database on the city website was supposed to make it easier for Patersonians to get access to the information around the clock, rather than only during municipal office hours, Rooney said.

The former mayor said he and city employees set up the database about 10 years ago as a service and convenience for city residents who were looking to file tax appeals. As part of the appeal process, homeowners are supposed to list recent sales of houses that are comparable to theirs as evidence that their property is overvalued. Easy access to property sales information is particularly important for Paterson homeowners as the April 1 deadline nears for filing 2012 tax appeals.

Last year, a record number of Patersonians filed tax appeals – more than 4,700.

Rooney and some city council members are pushing for Paterson to invest in new software that they say would enable the municipality to do a better job keeping updated data on its website and also facilitate future reassessments.

Meanwhile, Paterson is on the verge of conducting a citywide revaluation – an extensive process designed to bring property assessments closer to market values, officials said. Paterson’s last revaluation was conducted in 2006, just before the region’s real estate market went down the tubes. As a result, most city properties initially were overvalued by about 29 percent, officials said.

City officials currently are putting together specifications so they begin taking bids on the revaluation, a job that likely will cost around $2 million. The new value probably would not be in place until 2014, officials said.

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