Essex County taxes will be higher in 2014 after revaluation, Cedar Grove official says

Two of the largest cities in Essex County have gone through a revaluation, which will cause a “dramatic impact” to townships like Cedar Grove, a local official said this week.

After a revaluation of homes in Newark and East Orange, Cedar Grove’s taxes will increase more than anticipated, Township Manager Thomas Tucci said during an Aug. 4 Township Council meeting. Tucci reported that the county’s tax levy is 6.15 percent more than in 2013.

“This is an increase of $651,698,” Tucci said, adding that he will not know what the increase means for the average taxpayer until the Essex County Board of Taxation releases its final figures in the next couple of weeks.

Tucci told the Times that the increase is due to the cities undergoing a revaluation at the same time. Revaluations normally take place every 10 years. What was discovered, Tucci said, was that the value of the properties in both towns went down, meaning that the taxes in other municipalities had to go up.

“It has to equal 100 percent. Say, for example, the city of Newark was paying 60 percent of the pie. Now, because of revaluation, they’re only paying 50 percent of the pie. Another 10 percent now has to be re-apportioned to the other communities,” Tucci said.

County taxes are one of six parts in a Cedar Grove resident’s tax bill. The remaining five include a school tax, garbage tax, library tax, local municipal tax, and a county open space tax.

For 2014, all of the aforementioned portions add up to approximately $49 million. Of that total, this year’s county tax takes up about $11 million. In 2013, the county tax was about $10.6 million. .

In 2013, based on the average home assessment of $466,000, the average Cedar Grove homeowner paid $9,500 in taxes, according to the State of New Jersey Department of Treasury. This year, home values in Cedar Grove decreased by $2,200, according to a previous article in the Times. With only school and municipal taxes, residents should see an average increase of at least $250 more in 2014.

The Board of Taxation is soon expected to release a tally of assessments, budgets and tax rate information for Essex County.

“Until then, I don’t know how much [residents] will be paying,” Tucci said.

Though Gov. Chris Christie signed a law limiting New Jersey municipalities and school boards from increasing their respective budgets beyond 2 percent a year, there are exceptions to the rule. In this case, the county and county open space taxes are apportioned figures, not budgetary ones like the remaining pieces of the tax pie (school, library, etc.). County taxes would not be part of the 2 percent tax cap, the township manager told the Times.

Tucci and Tax Assessor Richard Hamilton said Verona and West Caldwell will also experience similar increases in its tax levies.

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