The results of the township's latest reassessment show Moorestown's ratable base has dropped by more than $800,000,000 during the last five years.
Appraisal Systems Inc. (ASI) completed the reassessment at the end of 2012 and recently posted the initial results, which show the township's ratable base presently stands at approximately $3.9 billion.
(Click on the attached PDF to see the numbers in more detail.)
That's a drop of $827,000,000—or 17 percent—from 2008, when Moorestown last had a revaluation (which was also performed by ASI). The total assessed value of the township at the time of revaluation—just prior to the burst of the housing bubble—was $4.746 billion, according to township financial officer Tom Merchel.
That number fluctuated over the last several years—climbing with the addition of new construction, sliding every time the township lost an appeal—and the township's estimated ratable base in 2012 was $4.596 billion.
Township officials and ASI, as well as most property owners, certainly expected the ratable base to drop as a result of the turbulent state of the real estate market.
ASI vice president Jason Cohen said Moorestown was unique in that its last revaluation was done at the height of the housing market boom.
Property owners began receiving notice of their new assessments in the mail earlier this month and ASI has been holding interviews with property owners at Lenola Fire Hall throughout the week, said DeKlerk. As of Wednesday, 165 people—out of 7,300 properties—had requested to meet with the reassessment firm.
Cohen said the response thus far has not been huge, "but we'll probably get more," adding that between 2 to 5 percent of property owners typically request a review of their reassessment.
There has been some grumbling about the new assessments from property owners whose values decreased, but saw an increase in their taxes.
Township officials and ASI representatives explained at town hall meetings last fall that the results of the reassessment would vary, but the idea was to reestablish tax fairness.
"Some people’s taxes will go up, some people’s taxes will go down, others will stay the same," said township manager Scott Carew. "If you’re one of the ones whose taxes go up, you’ve been doing better than your neighbors up to this point. You’re not being punished—they’re being evened out.”
The township still needs to collect the same amount of money in taxes so it can keep on operating—providing things like trash pickup, police protection and other municipal services—and Cohen explained that the $800,000,000 difference in the ratable base has to get absorbed into the tax rate. So even though property owners might see a drop in their assessed value, "it might not come down enough to compensate for the increase in the tax rate ... This is just a function of the math."
Merchel said he expects the township to save roughly $500,000 a year post-reassessment as a result of not having to defend, or lose, tax appeals. The township has lost more than $3 million over the last few years due to lost appeals.
ASI will be meeting with property owners now until Feb. 7. To schedule an appointment, contact ASI directly at 201-493-8530 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
A statement on ASI's website explains that, "These one-on-one meetings are designed to continue the information gathering process and may result in an increase, decrease or no change to the proposed assessed value depending upon the facts relevant to each individual case. No decision can or will be made at the time of your meeting. Appraisal Systems, Inc. staff and the municipal assessor will consider the information obtained and notify you by mail with the outcome of the review."
For more information on reassessment, including an updated timeline and a list of every residential assessment in town, visit ASI's website.
Unhappy with the results of your new assessment? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us why.