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$3 Million Losses Lead to Reassessment

The township tax assessor says reassessment could begin by early summer.

After losing nearly $3 million in tax revenue through appeals just in the last four years, the township is ready to stem the bleeding with a reassessment later this year.

Tax assessor Dennis DeKlerk said he sent out requests for proposal (RFP) last Friday. Bids are due by April 4 and council is expected to take up the issue again at their April 16 meeting. If everything goes smoothly, DeKlerk said reassessors could be on the ground by late May or early June.

DeKlerk and financial officer Tom Merchel . The problem: The revaluation of 2007—which used 2005 and 2006 market data to calculate assessments—occurred right at the apex of the housing bubble.

Then the bubble popped, DeKlerk said, leading to record assessment appeals—200 to 300 a year—most of which property owners have won.

“The assessments are higher than the market value supports,” he told council Monday night. “We can no longer defend them.”

Merchel said in 2008, the first year the new assessments went into effect, the township lost $1,150,000 in tax revenue through appeals. That hit, he said, “completely demolished” the township’s surplus and created major financial headaches that are still having ripple effects.

Losses of $254,000, $873,000 and $670,000 from 2009 to 2011 have exacerbated the problem. For some perspective, the township lost just $37,000 in 2007 through appeals.

Merchel noted that while the township only keeps 14 cents of every tax dollar it collects—the rest goes to the school district, fire district and county—it pays for every cent lost through appeals.

After the less-than-savory results of the 2007 revaluation, DeKlerk said he included a number of conditions in the RFP to mitigate potential problems. Among the provisions:

  • Bidders are required to make data updates in the field using portable electronic devices to cut down on the risk of data entry errors.
  • DeKlerk will accompany inspectors, unannounced, at various intervals during the “groundwork” phase of the reassessment.
  • The township assessment office will have a “real-time link” to the reassessment firm’s computers to monitor its progress.
  • After assessors are finished the groundwork phase, residents will receive a copy of their property record card, containing all the information that went into their new assessment. If there are any errors, the property owner will be able to contact the firm directly.

DeKlerk and financial officer Tom Merchel estimate the cost of the reassessment at around $200,000-250,000, spread over five years—though they narrowly avoided having to pay the cost all at once, according to Merchel.

The process the township went through in 2007 was classified, by state statute, as a revaluation, Merchel explained, where you’re “scrapping the (assessment) data and getting new data.”

What the township is undertaking now is defined as a reassessment—an updating of assessment information. A revaluation, Merchel said, is more expensive—the 2007 revaluation cost the township about $600,000—but can be paid for over a five-year period, per state statute. A reassessment, while cheaper, typically has to be paid for up-front.

Fortunately, Merchel and DeKlerk were able to work out a deal with the county board of taxation to spread the cost of reassessment over a five-year period.

“They were very accommodating to us,” Merchel said. “They agreed it was necessary and approved our reassessment plan.”

mark March 27, 2012 at 07:30 PM
WOW !!!! 3 Million in hock, and the politicians want to spend another $15 million on a new municipal building. Time for a new political team
Dem Watcher March 27, 2012 at 07:42 PM
mark this isnt the obama administration where they have accumulated $6 trillion in debt in 3 years to give out for freebies along with obamacare. What would this "new political team" do? Stop town hall? Cut taxes? Hows the hope workin out? Can you spare some change?
diehardrep March 27, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Mark, First, the three million (lost to appeals) was caused by the democrat reassessment of 2008. You overvalued all the ratables in a declining market and stuck the new council with paying for it. Second, the town hall cost is more like 12 million. If I recall, the rehab bid started by the democrat council was 16 up to 21 million. You've got baggage.
Barry March 27, 2012 at 09:00 PM
That's the reason government mentality of spending everything is stupid. Think about all the tax revenue collected each year from property taxes...all the new construction for the past 10 years and they get rid of every penny. Now that values have come down they will reassess all home values and increase the mil rate to make sure they can keep spending. It's just a game that cost the taxpayers more and more. I find it to be a joke that they need to spend $200,000 to reval the town. Since there have been 500+ appeals in the past four years the assessor should go thru each property records card, figure out market value, and reassess. Oh I forgot....that means a govt employee would have to work...lol. I love the town is willing to spend another $200k to do the assessors job! Spend spend spend....then just say we need more. BTW - these assessors including Mr. DeKlerk make between $150k to $200k a year....he has multilpe towns!
Ed Nice March 27, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Hey diehard, where do you get $12 million. 45,000 sq feet x 300 a foot all in is 13,500,000. Who cares about who started what. Do we have the money or not? Has the Town Hall Federation (THF) started the bake sales yet LOL because if my home is worth less, why do I want to pay more for town hall?
Go Dems in 2012 March 28, 2012 at 12:05 AM
Republicans are to blame for our higher taxes. Vote for us, we will raise your taxes. That is a promise!
Ed Nice March 28, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Another cowardly poster. Really, so the Dems from 2005-2008 didnt raise taxes ever? Jordan and ciacchio didnt raise taxes last year? Broder? Rocotto? Its only BGTs fault? You dont know anything.
Dem Watcher March 28, 2012 at 12:23 AM
Let's be honest here. Democrats like Frank and Pelosi let Fannie and Freddie give away free mortgages to deadbeats and now look at the housing market. Obama is worse than Carter. The local Democrat party is run by Mark Hines who some have said will run on "no fields and no town hall" It will be interesting to see which ticket offers to cut taxes. Remember Hines was a member of the library Board and wanted to build a new building at great taxpayer expense. When will we know for sure only time will tell.
Go Dems in 2012 March 28, 2012 at 12:30 AM
You silly Republicans. Don't know what your current leaders are doing? Yet, you attempt to divert attention from your incompetency. Shame on YOU. Higher Taxes. Higher Assessments. Vote Republican - we definitely will raise your property taxes, year after year. And, give a bonus to the Tax Assessor. WHY NOT. We are the party to party with. We raise taxes.
Go Dems in 2012 March 28, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Why can't the Republicans see their own incompetence. Johnny................
Dem Watcher March 28, 2012 at 12:40 AM
The tax assessor was hired by the Democrats in 2007. The revaluation was done by the Democrats. What will Hines and Newcomer and ??? run on? Patch followers cannot wait to find out.
Go Dems in 2012 March 28, 2012 at 12:56 AM
The Revaluations was the dope child of Republican Racatooooooooooooooo..... He initiated it, he pushed it. And, he is to be praised for RAISING OUR TAXES. Stop creating revisionist history YOU DOPEY REPUBLICAN. Know your facts.
Dem Watcher March 28, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Why do Democrats always have to lie, cheat and steal? January 2006 Robert Gorman, 28 Palmer Drive, addressed Council. Mr. Gorman spoke about a reassessment in town, stating that same is needed and asking about its status. He asked Council if they are in support of a revaluation. Mr. Terry advised that the maps are under review by the State. Mr. Miller advised that a reval would most likely result in higher taxes for all residents. Mr. Gorman disputed Mr. Miller’s comments. He advised Council that a reval should have been done years ago and said that he does not want to pay the taxes of others. He asked Council to expedite the process. He asked that the status be placed on the next agenda for discussion. Mr. Terry reminded him that the Township is awaiting approval of the maps. ORDINANCE 28-2006 AN ORDINANCE OF THE TOWNSHIP OF MOORESTOWN, BURLINGTON COUNTY, NEW JERSEY AUTHORIZING A SPECIAL EMERGENCY APPROPRIATION FOR A REVALUATION PROGRAM AND APPROPRIATING $583,200 FOR FINANCING OF SAME A motion was made by Mr. Eron, seconded by Mr. Miller, to adopt the ordinance on first reading and set second reading and the public hearing date for November 27, 2006 at 8pm. Upon a roll call, the vote was as follows: AYES: Councilmembers Roccato, Segal, Miller, Eron, Aberant
Ed Nice March 28, 2012 at 01:34 AM
As fascinating as it might be to watch Dems and Reps duke it out, as a voter and taxpayer, I am only interested in what is best for the Moorestown Party. Which of you candidates wants to tell me what your plans are to fix the fields and lower my taxes? Believe me, I am not alone in these questions. Stop the games and answer the questions.
Go Dems in 2012 March 28, 2012 at 02:27 AM
Dem Watcher. You are not very smart. Now. Pay attention. Please..... Fast forward to 2012. Who ordered the reassessment? Ok... we are listening? Let us know. WHY?
Dem Watcher March 28, 2012 at 02:31 AM
The Dem appointed assessor who did the original reevaluation wants to do another one. What is your point exactly Democrat? Do we need one or not? WE ARE LISTENING!
Done Withit March 28, 2012 at 02:36 AM
Higher taxes: You are an idiot and may very likely be in the early stages of Alzheimer's. Not only was the reval done when the Democrats were in office, but they were warned that there were problems with it yet. The Democratic council went ahead and certified it even though they knew there were serious problems. The current council had nothing to do with the complete incompetence of the previous reval.
avis haggett March 28, 2012 at 11:57 AM
Just as an aside - I for one would love another reassessment strictly for the entertainment value. I'll never forget going in to pick up the free printout of my property's assessment details, only to find a long line of angry taxpayers waiting for their chance to rat out their neighbor's illegal home improvements. I haven't heard such singing since my days in the church choir!
Go Dems in 2012 March 28, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Go Democrates in 2012. 8:30 pm on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 You silly Republicans. Don't know what your current leaders are doing? Yet, you attempt to divert attention from your incompetency. Shame on YOU. Higher Taxes. Higher Assessments. Vote Republican - we definitely will raise your property taxes, year after year. And, give a bonus to the Tax Assessor. WHY NOT. We are the party to party with. We raise taxes.
HomeBrew March 28, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Interesting and timely Star-Ledger report on statewide flood of tax appeals. More than 87,000 property owners filed tax appeals statewide last year and NJ municipalities lost more than $3.8B in ratables in 2011. http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/03/nj_tax_appeals_settlements_cos.html
up in smoke March 28, 2012 at 09:56 PM
That's a high amount. What do the candidates have to say about high taxes?
Go Dems in 2012 March 29, 2012 at 01:01 AM
Now, let's ask Our Republican friends in Council to share with US - taxpayers how much taxes are going to be raised? Vote for Republicans - we will raise your taxes.
diehardrep March 29, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Hey Go Dems, Do your parents know you're up this late. Now, I want you to go to bed and let the adults have a intelligent conversation here. Well, some of them anyway.
up in smoke March 29, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Now, let's ask our democrates and republicrates what they will do to send home values higher the grass aint always greener
Go Dems in 2012 March 29, 2012 at 01:06 PM
2012 - Republican Moorestown Town Council votes to allow tax increases for home owners. Now, that is the most stupidest thing John has proposed to date. Vote Republican - we will raise your taxes. And, spend more to boot!
dieharddem March 29, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Lets root big for Obama this fall! He is amazing. I hope Obamacare survives though because I like my free healthcare. Go Dems, what will the Democrats in town do to cut taxes? Any chance we can just tax the rich more and give us something? Its only fair.


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