MAPLEWOOD/SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — The leaders of the two SOMA towns — Village President Sheena Collum and Mayor Frank McGehee — have sent a letter to Gov. Phil Murphy to ask for the ability to delay the property tax deadline. Currently, the date due is set by the state and local municipalities do not have the authority to adjust it; the option to delay the due date and/or extend a grace period could offer some relief to property tax payers struggling with income loss.
April 24, 2020
Dear Governor Murphy:
First and foremost, we want to thank you for your steady leadership through this unanticipated and unprecedented public health crisis. These are challenging times for us all, but you have set the appropriate tone, established the proper guidance, and provided extraordinary leadership.
We write to offer you a suggestion. In recent weeks, you arranged for the option for our taxpayers to seek mortgage forbearance. You called for landlords to pass along any forbearance and relief to tenants. You moved the state tax deadline to July 15. In addition, you have requested private and public water systems to suspend nonpayment water shutoffs; prohibited cable and telecommunication providers from terminating internet and voice services for nonpayment until 30 days after the termination of the public health emergency; extended the minimum grace period for various insurances, including health, dental, life, and property and casualty; worked for payment relief to borrowers with New Jersey College Loans Assist loans; and suspended rent increases for eligible NJHMFA properties. These are all appropriate and greatly appreciated measures.
Many local elected officials would like to offer some option to provide relief to our property taxpayers. We have included a copy of Executive Order 113, which was issued by Governor Chris Christie in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. This order extended the deadline for 2012 fourth quarter property tax payments to Friday, November 16 for those municipalities that were not holding an accelerated tax sale. Further, it stated that any governing body may adopt a resolution extending the grace period to a date no later than December 31, 2012. It is our understanding that at the end of the grace period in 2012, interest rates on the delinquency reverted to the existing delinquency rate; however, municipalities were permitted to lower the interest rate to provide further assistance to their residents, especially in the harder hit areas.
We are also including the Division of Local Government Services’ Local Finance Notice 2012-28 (https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dlgs/lfns/12/2012-28.pdf), which at the time offered advice to those municipalities that were looking to extend their grace periods beyond November 16, 2012.
Since there is clear precedence of providing relief to property taxpayers after a declared emergency, we urge you to consider an Executive Order giving municipalities the option to extend the grace period to a certain date and, as was done in 2012, allow for a change in the interest rate on the delinquency going forward. This measure would enable local units to consult with their professional staff and identify options for relief at the local level with certainty that we have the legal capabilities to do so and with your blessing.
We wish you good health, and please know that we mayors are here to do our part to keep Jersey strong. Very truly yours,
Sheena Collum Frank McGehee
South Orange Village President Maplewood Mayor
Cc: Essex County Mayors, NJ 27th District State Representatives, New Jersey State League of Municipalities
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