TOMS RIVER - Should the township revise the recent revaluation by reviewing home valuations that have soared in certain areas?
That's the suggestion of Councilman Daniel Rodrick, who said he has been contacted by concerned homeowners in Holiday City at Silverton and other waterfront areas of town. And he wants Mayor Maurice M. "Mo" Hill to do something about it.
"These valuations are not correct," Rodrick maintained at the Wednesday Township Council meeting. "They are way out of line with historical norms. … Mayor Hill has to send the assessors back to Holiday City and the waterfront."
Rodrick's request for a redo of the revaluation in certain areas was not supported by the rest of the council.
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Hill noted that residents who do not believe their new valuations are correct can contact Professional Property Appraisers — the company that completed the work — by Feb. 4 to set up an appointment. Appointments, either in person or by phone, will be scheduled by the end of February, the mayor said.
Property owners must produce three comparable sales to show to the appraisal group in order to help prove their case. If unable to reach agreement with Professional Property Appraisers on the valuation, homeowners can file an appeal with the Ocean County Board of Taxation.
Appeals to the tax board must be filed by May 1.
"Neither the council or I were in favor of this property valuation," Hill said. "We asked them to delay this for another year or two. We were denied."
The township-wide revaluation was mandated by the Ocean County Board of Taxation in 2018, because properties in Toms River were then assessed at 83.4% of their true value. In 2020, Mayor Maurice B. "Mo" Hill Jr. estimated that the assessed value of Toms River properties had fallen to about 79%.
The township was able to delay the revaluation because it was not until 2020 that the state certified the township's tax maps. These maps identify every parcel of land in town by lot and block, and also include features like easements, streams and railroad rights-of-way.
The mayor and township council members had considered asking for another delay in the revaluation earlier this year, fearing that the coronavirus pandemic could cause property values to slump.
But the opposite has happened: property values have actually stayed stable or risen in various parts of the township. Many residents from northern New Jersey and New York City relocated to the Jersey Shore during the pandemic's first year.
An Asbury Park Press analysis found Toms River property values jumped 34% from 2020 to 2021, with the average home price in town rising to $377,524.
This is the first property revaluation in Toms River since 2012's superstorm Sandy caused massive damage in town.
But in many of the areas most impacted by the storm, homes have been demolished and rebuilt, or elevated to meet federal flood mandates. Those homes have already been assessed at higher values as construction was completed.
Hill said the biggest jumps in values happened in places like Holiday City and in waterfront areas where homes did not have to be rebuilt and those were not reassessed since before Sandy struck.
The last revaluation took place in 2008, with the new values taking effect in 2009, in the midst of the Great Recession. More than 4,000 residents and business owners filed tax appeals to challenge new values they claimed were inflated.
In 1993 a revaluation found residents in the Greenbriar Woodlands adult community up in arms about increasing real estate value. Tax bills in the community rose 40% to 45% under the new property assessments.
When a revaluation is complete, taxpayers who own properties that are assessed below their market value will shoulder a greater share of the municipality's tax burden, while those whose properties are overvalued will pay a smaller share.
A revaluation itself does not lead to a property tax increase; the amount an individual homeowner will pay in taxes is determined by the tax rate set by the municipal government, school district, county and fire district.
Experts say during a typical revaluation, about one third of property owners will see a tax increase, one third will see taxes decrease, and one third will see no change in taxes.
For more information about the revaluation, call the township Tax Assessor's Office at 732-341-1000, ext. 8300.
Jean Mikle covers Toms River and several other Ocean County towns, and has been writing about local government and politics at the Jersey Shore for nearly 37 years. A finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in public service, she's also passionate about the Shore's storied music scene. Contact her: @jeanmikle, email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Toms River NJ revaluation home prices 'way out of line': councilman