WESTFIELD, NJ — Following its first revaluation in about 38 years, the town saw 445 tax appeals, the administrator for Union County’s Board of Taxation said.
While the figure marks more than twice the number of tax appeals the town would see during the typical year, Westfield officials said they had anticipated an increase in the appeals.
“In past years, we have averaged approximately 150-200 appeals, and certainly expected an increase following the first town-wide revaluation since 1981,” said Kim Forde, a spokeswoman for the town.
“As part of their responsibilities, Realty Appraisal Company defends their assessments at the county appeal level on behalf of the town for two years following the revaluation.”
The Town Council in 2017 awarded a $671,200 contract to the revaluation firm stipulating that it defends the appeals.
The town’s tax assessor and a representative from the town attorney’s office attend each hearing at the Union County courthouse for the process, which is completing its second of three anticipated weeks, Forde said Friday.
The revaluation changed the average assessed home value from $180,913 in 2018 to $795,159. The total tax bill on a home assessed at the municipality’s average value, however, rose to $17,087.96, up by $173.96 from the prior year’s total tax bill of $16,914, the figures show.
The rise in the total tax bill on the average home, however, is not attributable to the revaluation. While the local government’s budget stayed flat, the school board’s budget rose by 2.8% and the Union County Freeholders’ budget rose by 1.75%.
The revaluation, Forde noted, is intended to spread the tax burden more fairly by aligning assessed property values with market values.
“The purpose of a revaluation is to spread the tax burden more equitably among all property owners, based on current market rate property values,” she said. “Following the revaluation, more homes in Westfield experienced a decrease than an increase in their anticipated property taxes (57% vs. 43%).”
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