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Tax Increases Not Welcome News to Township Residents

Mayor Walsh says municipal taxes small part of puzzle

All across Howell residents found their tax bills in their Saturday mail and for many the news was not good for their wallets. 

In a year when meant lower property value for many in the township those seeing their taxes go up were less than pleased with the numbers on their bill. Township Tax Assessor Gregory T. Hutchinson said in a press release more than the reassessed values of people's properties goes into figuring out what people pay in taxes.

The first factor, he said is the tax rate which can only be set "after the budgets for the municipality, county, and are completed and the total amount to be collected by taxes is calculated." State aid to the county, municipality and is also factored in to determine the total amount that needs to be collected. 

Hutchinson said the tax levy is then divided by what is known as the Total Ratable Base (TRB) which he said is "how much the municipality is worth based on current assessments." With the decline in the housing market Hutchinson said the township's TRB decreased between 19 and 20 percent this year alone. 

"Due to the fact that the amount of taxes that needs to be collected has only slightly decreased, and the ratable base has been cut by 20 percent, this is why the end result of the reassessment is an increase in the tax rate," he said. 

The final tax amount for each resident is then determined by multiplying the new assessed value of a property by the new tax rate per $100. 

Mayor Robert Walsh said he understands the frustration being expressed by residents but said the governing body did its best to limit the hit they took. Walsh said of the taxes collected only 17 percent goes to the township while 83 percent goes to the schools, the county, and the fire districts.

"I could see people being unhappy about the amount of taxes they pay," Walsh said. "We've done everything we possibly can to keep the tax dollars as low as possible but you also have to deliver services."

Since joining the council Walsh said the township has cut its workforce by 20 percent while pension costs have more than doubled and insurance costs are up more than 80 percent. "I'm frustrated also, I'm a frustrated taxpayer." Walsh said. 

The problems, Walsh said go far beyond Howell's borders. "The whole system does need to be addressed," he said. "I think you're seeing a collapse in different parts that if this system isn't addressed, I've said for years now that we're going to look at these decisions and say they were easy. I believe our toughest decisions are ahead of us, not behind us."

Cities and towns in places like California and Pennsylvania have declared bankruptcy in recent months and Walsh said he believes it is just the beginning. "I think you're seeing the tip of the iceberg here," he said. "I wish I could tell people I would lower their taxes but as a mayor and governing body you must still deliver core services like health, safety and fixing the roads."

Walsh said he knows these are tough times for people in the township and beyond. "I'm very realistic," he said. "I own two properties in Howell and both of them just went up in their taxes. I'm not happy about it, but I am also realistic enough to know, what else do people want me to cut. I'll be glad to listen."

Following years where the workforce has been cut and there have been furloughs in the township in the not too distant past, Walsh said finding areas to cut that will not have a major impact on the lives of residents is getting harder. "The rubber is meeting the road between the taxpayer and vital core services," he said. 

The next meeting of the Mayor and Council is set to be held on Tuesday at 7:30 at . The Board of Education will meet on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Middle School North.

Guess Who January 01, 2013 at 09:43 PM
teachers cut which budget? The PROPOSED budget or they cut last years spending? Ther's a big difference. If they cut an actual budget our taxes would have gone down not up.
Guess Who January 01, 2013 at 09:50 PM
we spend tens of thousands more on teacher pay and perks than almost any other state. Why? Politicians want their voting block and #2 we literally have the cat watching the hen house. most board of Ed members are either in the education business or are married to or related to someone in the education business . Teachers making over $100,000 a year is idiotic and insane , add the cost of educating kids born by ILLEGAL immigrants which is double the cost of educating kids born from legal immigrants and by citizen parents it goes up more. Add in the cost of maintaining public parks as well as the fact few parks in Howell are used much because of the rural character of Howell and you can start to get a good idea why we pay so much in property tax here.
Guess Who January 01, 2013 at 10:27 PM
If you want to lower property taxes, a lot needs to be done. 1st stop wasting hundreds of thousands on revaluations. Assessments are at best a lame guess of what a property MIGHT be worth if sold on the day the assessment is made . Once assessed property values can go up ordown. When down, some people appeal, but most don't. If they win the appeal their taxes go down but everyone elses will go up to pay for those who won the appeals. That's not fair. The first part to fix the mess in NJ's property taxes is to help cut municipal costs by ending the way current assessments are done. Taxes should be charged based only on the size of your home and outbuildings, the size of your lot and the fire district you live in. Nothing more. You should not be penalized for making your home nicer by doing things like adding real oak trim, skylights, a whirlpool tub, marble floors etc etc Unless the square footage is wrong on your tax bill, you have no basis to appeal. Square footage is simple to do and no skills are needed . Once every 8-10 years the town can go out to see if you did any additions without a permit. No need to pay hundreds of thousands to appraisal companies, or the high cost to fight appeals. This way the taxes will be more fair and it will allow the beginning of part 2 which will be to find other ways to fund education and that's easy also but I'm going to eat dinner now .
Guess Who January 01, 2013 at 10:30 PM
I suggest you call in talk shows and write to the governor as well as go to town meetings as often as possible and yell at him for not doing anything worthwhile about our insanely high property taxes. This will also encourage people to do repairs and make their homes look nicer because you will not be taxed on that. My plan will work and Gov. Christy knows about it. I gave him a copy before he was elected that showed a error margin of ..............hold on now.........as much as 175% !! in actual sold prices verses assessed values !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. The lower priced homes almost always sold for far under assessment, while the top dollar homes always sold for way more than assessed as per the Monmouth County NJ Association of Realtors Sales Books in 1994-1995 when I first did my study. . while values have gone up and down since then the errors in value have at best stayed the same but more likely have gotten worse.
Jim January 01, 2013 at 11:01 PM
Restart the Howell fight in 2013- www.taxpayerwaste.com

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