WEST ORANGE, NJ – A lengthy discussion between Llewellyn Park residents and members of the West Orange Township Council ensued on Tuesday as five residents spoke about what they viewed as excessive taxes at a time when many residents are aging and finding it harder to either maintain or sell their homes.
The council was set to discuss a proposed resolution to approve sewer and road improvements in Llewellyn Park.
With Llewellyn Park’s infrastructure also aging, its leadership asked the township to help it secure a lower interest loan to deal with sewer and road repairs and upgrades. According to Council President Joe Krakoviak, the township did Llewellyn Park a “huge favor” by getting a 1.8-percent interest rate on the $560,000, 15-year loan that the township secured for this purpose.
With the passing of this resolution to begin the work, the residents of the gated community will now be paying this loan off, he said.
“Without the township’s help, the interest cost would have been many times that 1.8 percent rate,” said Krakoviak, who estimated that it saved approximately $1.1 million for Llewellyn Park residents who would have had to pay a much higher interest rate if they went through private financing.
Even with this explanation about why taxes are increasing to cover the infrastructure work, residents said this latest tax hike is particularly burdensome at a time when sales are slow in this gated community.
“We are paying enormous taxes to West Orange at a time when people are taking great losses when selling their houses in Llewellyn Park,” said Ann Cummis. “The sewer tax increases, on top of the assessment increases, will make it very hard to sell my house. It seems to me that taxes we are paying are out of balance for the services we receive from the town.”
Agreeing with Cummis, Lucille Farrell said that the value of homes Llewellyn Park “dropped by about $300,000.”
“We can’t sell our home,” said Farrell. “We need to rethink how homes in the Park are assessed.”
Councilman Victor Cirilo said that any concerns that residents have regarding property values in Llewellyn Park and how infrastructure repair is being handled should be addressed by the community’s Residents Association.
“With property values going up in West Orange, it’s alarming to hear that Llewellyn Park values are going down,” said Cirilo.
Agreeing with Cirilo’s assessment of the issue, Councilman Jerry Guarino said, “With homes going for over $120,000 in asking price in West Orange these days, I don’t know why Llewellyn Park home prices are going down so much.”
Krakoviak said that all West Orange residents are taxed at the same rate for their homes, based on the market assessment. Both he and Cirilo urged the Llewellyn Park residents to appeal their taxes if they feel they are being taxed too much.