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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.

Mark July 17, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Mine went up by 35%. When I purchased the house the assessement was at 417k ... for a 3 bedoom ranch! I appealed and they corrected it. (which was just a few months ago) Now they reassess, increase the value AND increase the rate. This is wrong. Back to re-appealing the taxes again.
Mark July 17, 2012 at 08:52 PM
BTW, we appealed the taxes based on incorrected information regarding the property. We were being assess for 2 more bedrooms, another full bathroom, and a finished basement that the home didn't have. We weren't just whining about paying our taxes, we just wanted it to be our fair share.
Dawn stover July 17, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Norm, I'm ready to move to where you are! Are there jobs there too, for the non retired people?
s July 18, 2012 at 03:32 PM
John, I agree with you! Everyone complains, but they vote the same people in.
s July 18, 2012 at 03:42 PM
I think it was all the tax appeals that messed this thing up. My house was assessed at 129000 when I bought it in 1995. When we had the first re=assessment, my house value went to $289900. As I understand it, most towns have reassessments every 10 yrs. So the timing was pretty accurate and the market was good. Why so many appeals. though?
S.P. July 18, 2012 at 10:05 PM
My taxes went up $1885.00!!! 24.5%!!!! I appealed in 2011 and my assessed value went from $ 418,000 to $356,400. I was very happy and was saving about $1,500 a year in property tax….and I felt it was a far number. And now this???? Why did I even bother? It’s no wonder homes are foreclosing all over this town! So now when it gets worse we will all have to bear the burden of these homes and the taxes that they are not generating? When does it end!? You can’t even sell a home now…Because if you could I’m sure Howell would turn into a ghost town. This needs to be looked into! My job dosent even give me a raise of $1,885.00 a year! How are people affording this?
Jim July 18, 2012 at 10:54 PM
School Board...School Board....School Board....this is where most of the taxes are controlled.....everyone needs to come tonight and start learning how this syste, works if we are ever to change it. It is so deeply rooted that it needs more than a clipping.....we're talking chopping down, digging out the trunk and roots, and planting new! Not easy and wont't happen until the system fails or enough people align and exert influence. Our Town Council feels powerless, but I think if they saw a crowd rallying behind them, this might give them some motivation to lead us.....let's make them better leaders, or find better ones who will drive real change. Come tonight, but know that no one will change anything based on complaints, they will be ignored.
Mark July 19, 2012 at 01:32 AM
Ya know, if having to raise the taxes on 10% of the township by 20-35% in order to 'fix' the tax system ... then there is something seriously wrong with the way the township tax system is being managed. I'm one of the lucky 35% increases.
s July 19, 2012 at 11:09 AM
Sorry SP why did you appeal in the first place? Did you not think your house was valued that high (418000) My mother lives up north jersey and there homes got reassessed as well. Her new value rose over 100,000. and of course, the taxes went up accordingly. Now her home is back down 100,000 but that is due to the economy not her township. We are all in the same boat when it comes to resale value now.
S.P. July 19, 2012 at 01:00 PM
$, I appealed because the homes around me where selling for less. Its hard to find comps where I live. I did my best furnishing the Tax office with these comps and they aggreed on the value. Now the surrounding homes here are not even selling. So next year comping other haomes is going to be very hard to do. There is a ton of short sales and forclosers in the area...But you cant comp them. If I could sell my home now for what the town has me assessed at I would leave Howell in a heart beat!!! And I would be taking a huge loss. I use to love living in Howell...No I cant wait to get the hell out.
Mary M July 20, 2012 at 10:25 AM
The whole thing is a sham. Everyone i spending too much money that they don't have. The township hires the same company as the last time a reassessment was done. By all accounts that company screwed up the job. What make anyone think that the same company would not screw it up again. I don't mind paying my fair share but this is off the wall. Who would want to move into Howell if a $400,000 home pays approx. $11,000 for property taxes? If I had it to do over again, I would have stayed where I was. Have the township check the taxes paid by these so called farms, where they raise a few animals (not referring to actual working farms) and have their property taxed as a farm. What a sham that is! Mayor Walsh talks about his two properties, he can sell one, but I only have one that I may at some point have to sell and move out of NJ where I was born and have lived most of my life. It was expensive to life here before but it is getting way out of sight and that may not be possible anymore. $25 - 35% increase is unacceptable. I want my home reevaluated again because with this tax increase my home has decreased in value.
Jim July 20, 2012 at 10:31 AM
So everyone knows, after talking to Gov Christie the other day in Manasquan, 2 people from his office have contacted me and want me to call to discuss the issue with them in regards to the 2% tax cap. HOWEVER, if they have stayed within the 2% cap, which appears they did, then I am expecting little from the Gov's office. I will post an update here later today.
Jim July 20, 2012 at 10:35 AM
And, so that this is not lost among my other comments, was everyone aware that we lost our right to vote on the budgets? This was negotiated away between the Council and School Board- "If you move the school board elections to November, and stay within the 2% increase cap, we will agree to legislate that there is no voting on the budget" (my quote to emphasize). Funny how now, the 17% they are responsible for is no longer up for a vote either..... Ok, enough for blogs.....what is the real action? Just voting does not cut it anymore.
scapo July 21, 2012 at 03:05 PM
the school board elections in november helps the taxpayers. Many residents were not voting when the school board elections were held in an odd month BUT THE PARENTS OF THE STUDENTS WERE VOTING because the school made sure they knew when the elections were taking place.. the residents need to vote in the right people on the school board!
tpaige July 21, 2012 at 03:25 PM
I find the biggest challenge with the school board vote is finding information about the candidates. I don't like just voting for someone because I want the incumbent out. Sadly I know more about the national level than I do the local level which is the opposite of how it should be.
scapo July 21, 2012 at 03:32 PM
I have had the same problem..I WILL BE DOING DUE DILIGENCE for this upcoming NOVEMBER election to find out who the fiscal conservative candidate is that is running...
s July 21, 2012 at 03:35 PM
tpaige----that info is always in the local paper before the election. Explains personal background, outlines their views and plans of action.
tpaige July 21, 2012 at 03:39 PM
The action is to hold people in charge accountable. That is going to require a sustained effort by residents to become involved and informed. For example, I have a devil of a time finding information on anyone running for a position in the township or on the BOE. What sweetheart deals are out there? Be it paying out $60k for unused sick time to using the same firm to do the town assessments when they botched it the first time. To even have several school administrators making over $200k!
tpaige July 21, 2012 at 03:55 PM
s---do you mean local papers like Asbury Press and Howell Times? I'm always leery of getting information from those outlets because they come with a certain amount of bias. Where can I find voting records, blogs, papers or articles candidates have written. Where can I find out who a candidate is connected to? Don't get me wrong, I'm not expecting to find the perfect candidates but I would like to go into the voting booth with my eyes wide open. I like Howell and I don't think resident should be priced out of Howell just to feed the bureaucracy.
Mike Rogers July 21, 2012 at 06:30 PM
NEW Jersey has always had corrupt politicians, who care about themselves and no one else. The Mayor of Howell and all the other clueless politicians think they are fooling the public, WITH THEIR LINE... WE CUT AS MUCH AS WE CAN, WE HAVE TO PROVIDE SERVICES...Why don't you clowns make the tough decisions and eliminate the crazy salaries you are paying the brass in the police dept, principles and supertendant salaries in the 150k to 175k range. Why doesn't the Governor combine the services in some of these towns so a supertentant of schools can look over more then one town, or maybe eliminate the asst supertentant??? Something needs to be done to help the citizens, our houses are worth half of what they where 5 years ago and the property taxes continue to skyrocket. All the money the township of Howell paid to have this reassessment done and all along it doesn't make a difference, because as always they raise the tax rate to get whatever they want, what a joke. Sorry mayor you are FOOLING NO ONE.
Upset July 22, 2012 at 05:45 PM
The mayor stated that 59% of the Howell property tax "assessments" went down. "Let's be fair and truthful". Just because the assessments went down, doesn't mean the taxes went down on those properties. What the mayor didn't say is that many of the 59% saw their property taxes go up from last year. So much hot air and double talk. Homeowners who bought in Howell in Sept. 2008 were taxed at then current market value. A house at that time for $330,000 paid approx. $6,208 if everything remains the same that home is now paying approx. $8,500. If the value was reduced to $298,000 even though the tax assessment went down $32,000 - the taxes went up to approx. $7900. This is pure madness. The BOE and the town councils, county, and state governments need to stop spending money nobody has. Home ownership cannot be sustained under such circumstances. If you think property values have gone down now - wait till the market is flooded and there are no buyers. We will all be stuck! Tax payers have got to stop talking about the outrage and do something because it is only going to get worse. If homeowners think this was bad, just wait to see - it will continue to happen in years to come. If tax payers are successful in getting the values changed, it will open up another such increase in future years. Vote them all out - from the top down, all the way down.
timothy newman July 24, 2012 at 05:30 PM
tim newman here. I spoke this morning to bill gotto; deputy mayor .since my assesment went down20.000 & my bill increased 1.463dollars. the fact is they paid back on appeals ;under the law ;they had to reasses the town. so not to lose any money; the tax acessor raised all the ratables! the town is held hostage by the school's so even if they have a shortfall;they have to pay. the law's need to be changed! were stuck in a figure of 8. but now that the reassesment supposidly brought everyone more equal; your chances of winning a new appeal is almost impossible. you need to contact legislator's from christe on down to local legislator's & demand & audit & criminal investigation to where this money is going! he claims that even though the ratables went up. the town didn't collect 1 more penney in taxes;! tell that to all the people whose value went down & there taxes went up! let's not forget this top dollar police force! there salaries& fringe benefit packages are killin ya ! this isn't L.A.& camden; this is howell. were supposed to make due with what we got; then so should the town until the economy changes ! priorities need to come before luxuries!
John Lebrio July 24, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Did you appeal your taxes in 2009? Did you then have a lower tax that brought you in line with paying your fair share? Did your lowered assessed value stay the same from 2010 through 2011? Did your assessment go down in 2012? And now your taxes went up very significantly. Does it seem like you are being punished for appealing your taxes in 2009 to bring you to where your taxes should have been because you were paying more than your fair share prior to 2009? I do!
lrm August 04, 2012 at 04:05 AM
s: Many people appealed their taxes because the Township reassessed the property values of many of the Howell homes during the peak of the market. Then, when the economy crashed people realized that the houses within their development were selling for far less and the fair market value of these homes were averaged at much less than what our houses were assessed at a couple of years back. This prompted many individuals to appeal their taxes. The Assessor's Office put up quite a battle at the hearings, but wound up losing a considerable amount of appeals due to the fact that the houses were worth less than what they were during the peak of the market. Some were granted the appeal and were satisfied that they received SOMETHING even though it was very little for many residents. Then, the Assessor's office made an announcement in the paper that they were going to pay a very reputable company to reassess all of the homes to eliminate the many appeals that were taking up so much of the Towns' time and money. Anyway, the company reassessed and majority of the houses were found to be worth much less and majority of peoples' taxes increased to more than what they were before! Go figure..........So, in a nutshell, nothing's changed.
s August 04, 2012 at 06:54 PM
IRM Thanks for that info. Still seems that certain people are affected adversely and others are not. Thats what I don't get. When the value of my house went down with the reassessment, so did my taxes. So I don't understand why someone elses would go up if the reassessment went down. I have a much older home, and I have heard that many people who bought newer homes bought at a high price and then the assessment came in lower.
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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