Who Should Be Responsible for Successful Property Tax Appeals? [AUDIO]
Even though the housing market is finally starting to turn around, with more homes being sold at higher prices, a record number of tax appeals are being filed, and towns all over the Garden State are refunding tens of millions of dollars to homeowners who win their appeals.
That's causing big problems for many cash-strapped towns, so a growing number of them are passing resolutions, calling on school boards and the counties to share in the cost of the appeals.
"This suggestion really isn't a solution to the problem, it's really just shifting an expense from one level of government to another - and counties already reimburse municipalities for the tax appeals through the equalization process," says the Executive Director of the New Jersey Association of Counties, John Dinnadio.
He also says given the circumstances, it's not really surprising towns are taking this position.
"In part, they're looking to stick somebody else with the bill, they're looking to shift their responsibility."
Dinnadio believes one way to try and solve the problem is to give municipalities a better opportunity to plan out their finances, by moving the tax appeal process back - from April to January, which would allow them to better account for possible revenue losses in their budgets.
He also points out the counties are in no position to start paying out tens of millions of dollars to cover tax appeal losses.
"Like the municipalities," he says, "we're struggling to make ends meet, we're facing a hard two-percent property tax cap levy just like the municipalities."
"Over the years, we've had to unfortunately lay off workers, or reduce staff, or cut back on capital improvement projects and other important services…If we took on this responsibility, we'll have to cut services for other important programs that we've been doing for the past couple of years."
Dinnadio adds everybody needs to look at more consolidation and shared services to save money and improve efficiencies.