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Moorestown Losing Revenue Due to Record-High Tax Appeals

Dramatic rise in devalued homes leads tax assessor to recommend reassessment.

Every year, Moorestown loses tax revenue from devalued properties whose owners have appealed their pre-recession assessments.

Township tax assessor Dennis DeKlerk said 200 property owners—nine commercial, the rest residential and a few vacant—appealed their assessments last year, leading to a $423,000 loss (a large chunk of which would have also gone to the county and school district) in the amount of taxes collected.

"Those are really historic highs," he said. "That's the sort of thing that sends up red flags."

For some perspective, DeKlerk noted the amount of tax revenue lost through appeals in 2007—the year the current assessments were set—was $38,000.

Then the housing bubble popped, the recession hit, and now more and more people are realizing their homes aren't worth what they thought they were—at least in terms of the market. DeKlerk said property values on average are down at least 20 percent from 2008.

The problem, he said, is the township doesn't have the ability to defend existing assessments because it doesn't have "solid market values."

"We're trying to defend 2007 values in a 2011 market," he said, "which is not working."

DeKlerk has recommended the township carry out a reassessment to resolve the disparity and stem the appeals.

Council members are open to the idea, Mayor John Button said, but will take more time to investigate the merits of a revaluation before taking any action.

"I'm just starting to get my head around it now. Certainly, from my perspective, we have a problem," he said. "Anything that potentially has a financial impact, we have to understand how that works."

DeKlerk expects as many, if not more, appeals this year. If the township decides to undertake a reassessment in 2012—the entire process usually takes about a year—those values would take effect in 2013.

He estimated the cost of a reassessment at anywhere between $190,000-250,000, but said the township could spread its payments over a five-year period.

By comparison, Button put the price of the last reassessment at more than $500,000.

Quaker Oatmeal October 17, 2011 at 05:44 PM
chatterbot jean - I hear eating ginger snaps while sipping schnapps is quite enjoyable especially if you heat up the schnapps a little. What kind of schnapps do you like with your snaps?
MaryB October 17, 2011 at 07:02 PM
I have read the questions carefully several times. I do not find any particular type of license specified, either included or excluded, in either question. Question #2 may be a wish and a hope of some voters, but we voters cannot set conditions on the licenses. It will not matter what the vote is on #2. On #1, if we approve it, we approve all retail sales of any kind except for consumption on trains, planes and boats. Please quote for me the language in question #1 which states no package goods licenses are included and no licenses which allow the sale of package goods are included. Thank you.
jean October 17, 2011 at 07:44 PM
Murders, thieves, rapists, child molesters are working in the Town's BYOBs??? Gee, you are a real town booster In the Middle! Now there's a business plan - close down all the BYOBs because patrons won't know if their staffing is murders, rapists. While you are drinking at the Mall, look around carefully to be sure none of those murderers, rapists, child molesters are sitting there next to you buying their drinks. Since they will have lost their jobs they might just hide under your car and slash your ankle tendons to make it easier to kidnap you. Maybe their new jobs are at the Mall non-liquor businesses. To be safe all non-alcohol serving/selling establishments in the Mall should be shut down. If you don't buy the carrot of tax fantasy, then maybe the stick of fear for the lives of you and your family will work.
Lucy October 17, 2011 at 08:00 PM
OK...you're really losing it Jean, old girl! Signing off (for good...I mean it this time). Ba-bye!
M.Verado October 17, 2011 at 08:13 PM
Jean, The question of whether or not #2 can restrict #1 will be answered judicially, or by the ABC, not you or me. The answer I was looking for is did PREIT ask for approval of a specific license in question #1, such as Broad-C. I thought they did so that it differed from the question that was presented in 2007. First, I wouldn't compare Jay's or Ott's to what is intended at the Mall. Those establishments are bars who also sell food so that hungry customers will stay, and perhaps take a six pack when they leave.Second, Over-the-counter sales in a full-blown restaurant generates a much higher profit then pkg. goods. Their customers come for a great meal and a drink, not several drinks and a sandwich like bars. And, after all, PREIT is greedy right? So, why bother with pkg. sales. Third, even if one of the four licenses sought by PREIT eventually was to be used for a liquor store, so what? Is pkg. sales somehow another evil?
M.Verado October 17, 2011 at 08:17 PM
4:13pm on Monday, October 17, 2011 Jean, The question of whether or not #2 can restrict #1 will be answered judicially, or by the ABC, not you or me. The answer I was looking for is did PREIT ask for approval of a specific license in question #1, such as Broad-C. I thought they did so that it differed from the question that was presented in 2007. First, I wouldn't compare Jay's or Ott's to what is intended at the Mall. Those establishments are bars who also sell food so that hungry customers will stay, and perhaps take a six pack when they leave.Second, Over-the-counter sales in a full-blown restaurant generates a much higher profit then pkg. goods. Their customers come for a great meal and a drink, not several drinks and a sandwich like bars. And, after all, PREIT is greedy right? So, why bother with pkg. sales. Third, even if one of the four licenses sought by PREIT eventually was to be used for a liquor store, so what? Is pkg. sales somehow another evil?
In the Middle October 17, 2011 at 08:18 PM
Criminal incidents at the Cherry Hill Mall have decreased by 50% between 2008 (the year prior to the opening of additional fine-dining restaurants at the mall) and 2010. Those incidents include: Assault, Disorderly Conduct, Robbery, Harassment, Larceny/Theft, Stolen Vehicles and Trespassing. These figures were provided by Allied Barton Security Services. At both the Cherry Hill and Moorestown Malls, PREIT currently contracts with Allied Barton Security Services to provide security on a daily basis. At Cherry Hill, PREIT also pays the township approximately $60,000 per year to provide additional off-duty, township police officers to patrol the mall during peak hours and will do the same at Moorestown. That means Moorestown property taxpayers will not be asked to pay one penny more for police patrols at Moorestown Mall if the referendums pass and fine-dining restaurants are built. Note: Market research indicates that the addition of fine-dining restaurants has attracted a more mature, affluent consumer to the Cherry Hill Mall, and the same is expected to happen at Moorestown Mall. This is the key reason why criminal incidents have declined.
In the Middle October 17, 2011 at 08:24 PM
Vote Yes. Jean Jean Jean..your reply highlights that you cannot and will not stick to the facts. Take a look at the stats for crime at the Cherry Hill that are posted here. Your argument is without foundation.
Lucy October 17, 2011 at 08:33 PM
Dude...you're good! Much better than me on the computer! I'm struggling just to keep the crazies at bay. I'm voting YES, because the Mall is our biggest taxpayer and they need our help to survive. I believe, having seen the transformation in CHill, that our Mall can one day thrive as well. For ant one with school-aged children, the 2.2 million dollars that the Mall pays annually to our schools is too important to lose. Governor Christie says tough times are coming. I think they're here. Time to make a tough decision. Do we support our biggest taxpayer...and at the same time reap the benefits of 2.2 million dollars for our kids annually as well as $550,000 in taxes to our township annually (for which they use NO SERVICES, BY THE WAY!!! They use their own trash removal, snow removal and security). I say YES...we SHOULD AND WILL support them this time. I'm voting YES for the Mall, YES for the children in this town, YES for my tax bill...I'M VOTING YES!!!
In the Middle October 17, 2011 at 08:36 PM
Vote Yes. Question Two:..... "........THE LICENSE IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR THE SALE OF PACKAGE GOODS ANYWHERE IN MOORESTOWN." Above is the verbatim language as stated on the ballot. Reasonable minds would agree that it is written in plain English and simply states 'No Sale of Package Goods'. Period and end of story. Just another example of mucking up the waters by the opposition. Stop the misrepresentations and falsehoods. The misrepresentations proffered by the opposition only bolster the unreasonableness of their position. Vote for Moorestown--Vote for revenue--Vote for ratables --Vote for the Mall to be a destination of dining and shopping.
jean October 17, 2011 at 08:42 PM
Dear Lucy, promises, promises, just like PREIT! So you are going to post under one of your 6 other aliases. In the Middle, repeating parts of what you were given at the PREIT restricted presentations is not enlightening. M.Verado, waiting for a judge or the ABC to rule on the validity of Q#2 does not help voters. PREIT put it on the ballot. PREIT's lawyers should be willing to make public their professional opinion of its validity as a referendum question and whether is imposes a restriction on the licenses authorized by #1. Any and all licenses are authorized by a "yes" vote. It is up to Town Council or the local control board that will act as its surrogate to decide which licenses to issue - not the voters.
Lucy October 17, 2011 at 08:52 PM
Jean, I know I said we were through, but I take it back for just this once. Judge Bookbinder has rendered a legal opinion already and the next Judge will do the same. Now let me ask you...when that happens, will that be what you need to calm down and vote YES? And to what promises do you refer?
In the Middle October 17, 2011 at 09:00 PM
Vote Yes. Once again, no facts forth coming from the opposition. There are crime stats available--. They are not to your liking so you choose to ignore them --the stats are there period. Accept them or not, it does not change that the criminal statistics are of record. As to the question on the ballot, no package goods can be sold. Again. you do not like it , so you choose to ignore it. For the record, any and all licenses are not authorized---it is plainly written. The issue is really the continued reluctance of the oppostion to deal with the facts. Vote Yes,
In the Middle October 17, 2011 at 09:11 PM
Courier Post reporting on the lawsuit "What you are asking me to do is put words in there and overrule the Legislature and Governor (Alfred) Driscoll,” Bookbinder said, referring to the then-governor’s 1949 veto of a section of the legislation that would have lumped all the referendum provisions into one five-year period. The Moorestown retail consumption referendum is the broader of two liquor questions that will appear on the ballot. Cox did not challenge the second one, which would limit sales to full-service restaurants within an indoor shopping mall.
jean October 18, 2011 at 03:18 AM
In the Middle, YOU are the one who said our BYOBs can hire murderers, rapists, kidnappers and that establishments serving alcohol cannot. You follow that by how very safe the Mall will be because of extra security. If our BYOBs are harboring murderers, rapists and kidnappers, I say we close Main Street until the police can make a clean sweep and guarantee out safety until we are delivered to security at the new brick oven pizza restaurant.
jean October 18, 2011 at 03:21 AM
Even PREIT's lawyers will not say that is a valid and enforceable referendum question. It is on there to mislead people like you.
jean October 18, 2011 at 03:25 AM
You have not read the legal opinion on http://noliquorlicenses.com/TheTruth.html. Take note that PREIT lawyers and their faux citizen group will not provide any professional legal opinion that Question 2 is valid and enforceable.
Keeping It Real October 18, 2011 at 03:38 AM
Jean: Could you tell us who provided the legal opinion referenced in the anti liquor web site. I am generally suspect of legal opinions provided by firms or lawyers who are reluctant to put their names on their work product. look forward to your response thanks
M.Verado October 18, 2011 at 03:40 AM
Lucy, Good for you. There's nothing like common sense to guide one's decisions. What can I say, spread the word, and get them out on the eigth.
In the Middle October 18, 2011 at 03:43 AM
Vote Yes. Quite to the contrary, I have read and researched including the information posted on the site you referenced. Based on all the information from my independent research, Questions 1 and 2 are valid. So far, the township and state have validated those questions also. Again, it is not the anwer you like but is a supported and factually correct response.
In the Middle October 18, 2011 at 03:45 AM
Do not confuse licensing with zoning.--two different animals
Keeping It Real October 18, 2011 at 03:46 AM
does anyone on this site know the name of the lawyer or firm that provided the opinion refernced by jean why is that a secret?
In the Middle October 18, 2011 at 03:51 AM
Vote Yes. I am not sure an attorney drafted that statment. It could easily have been written by a zoning officer. A legal opinon letter cannot be considered an opinion letter unless written by a member of the state bar. Is someone practicing law without a license?
William October 18, 2011 at 04:06 AM
Voting YES! Use some common sense folks!
In the Middle October 18, 2011 at 04:09 AM
Vote Yes. It is a no brainer. A vote for Moorestown to help Moorestown.
M.Verado October 18, 2011 at 04:18 AM
Come on, Jean, you're not serious are you? Both questions are legally on the ballot, certified by the solicitor, and reviewed by the ABC. Do you really believe that PREIT's lawyers should challenge or second-guess their own initiative after having written it? If you wish to challenge it, do so. There will be no liquor control board. If liquor passes.., Council would be foolish to give that authority to anyone else.They will approve (activate) four licenses. Those licenses will cost one million each, and will be located within the Mall. The restaurants will be full-service eaterys, with no package sales, and they will thrive. The residents of Moorestown will have helped enhance their Mall, and will benefit themselves in doing so. The character of Moorestown will survive just as it did with BYOB on Main Street. The only lingering negatives remembered will be the nasty, twisted comments and outright fabrications posted on this blog. I sincerely hope the rest of South Jersey will forgive and forget this embarrassment.
M.Verado October 18, 2011 at 04:21 AM
Come on, Jean, you're not serious are you? Both questions are legally on the ballot, certified by the solicitor, and reviewed by the ABC. Do you really believe that PREIT's lawyers should challenge or second-guess their own initiative after having written it? If you wish to challenge it, do so. There will be no liquor control board. If liquor passes.., Council would be foolish to give that authority to anyone else.They will approve (activate) four licenses. Those licenses will cost one million each, and will be located within the Mall. The restaurants will be full-service eaterys, with no package sales, and they will thrive. The residents of Moorestown will have helped enhance their Mall, and will benefit themselves in doing so. The character of Moorestown will survive just as it did with BYOB on Main Street. The only lingering negatives remembered will be the nasty, twisted comments and outright fabrications posted on this blog. I sincerely hope the rest of South Jersey will forgive and forget this embarrassment.
Bryan Reddan October 18, 2011 at 11:42 AM
Regarding your last sentence - unfortunately I hear from friends and relatives in neighboring towns, almost daily, how Moorestown is nothing more than a laughing-stock to them based on this whole nonsense. They also thank me (Moorestown) for continuing to send restaurant customers their way.... Vote Yes.
M.Verado October 18, 2011 at 02:41 PM
Bryan, Well said, I too am getting similiar comments. One relative asked what we are putting in our water. I am astonished at the level of ignorance and deceit being put out by people on this blog, especially in consideration of the average level of education of our citizenery. Education, I suppose, doesn't always correlate with good character or common sense.
Bryan Reddan October 19, 2011 at 12:21 AM
Agreed - fortunately for both our sanities, I think we can take comfort in the fact that the obnoxiously outspoken few on this forum are far from representative of the Moorestown majority. In my heart of hearts, I believe common sense will prevail 2 weeks from now, and we will be adding tremendous drawing power to a seriously important piece of our town. Just hope I am right...

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