Cindy Ruffo is a tax collector. "I'm the hated one," says Cindy, who works for the City of Northfield and was formerly the tax collector in the Burlington Township communities of Bass River and Washington townships.
But nobody hates on Cindy when she's on her 11-acre horse farm in rural Bass River Township.
"Out here it's very secluded, very quiet," she says. "There's just the horses, the birds and the deer, which come out at 5 o'clock. I see about 30 of them every night."
Cindy and her husband, Michael, built their house off West Greenbush Road in 1986. It stands on land that was once owned by Cindy's grandparents, the Wunsches, who raised chickens and grew vegetables. Cindy grew up in a house that was once part of the property.
"My grandmother gave me 11 acres to build our house," Cindy says.
In addition to the four-bedroom, 2½ bath colonial, the property also includes a several outbuildings, two horse corrals and a six-stall horse barn where Cindy used to board horses.
"At one point I had 20 horses here," she says. "Now I just have four – three miniatures and a paint for riding."
While much of her property is wooded, Cindy says there are plenty of public riding trails close by.
"We're just a half mile from Bass River State Forest so there's 29,000 acres where you can ride," she says. "You can ride for hours, for days."
The Ruffos' two-story home is entered from a covered front porch and has a kitchen, dining, living and family rooms on the first floor. The kitchen was remodeled a year ago and features new cabinets a two-level island, and a ceramic tile floor. It opens to a family room with a ventless gas fireplace and a new hardwood floor. Sliding glass doors in both the kitchen and family room open to a partially covered deck with hot tub.
The formal living room is now home to Cindy's doll collection. French doors lead to a formal dining room with a parquet floor.
A two-story addition includes an enormous second floor recreation room and a two-car insulated garage where Michael is currently restoring a 1981 Corvette he gave Cindy as a birthday present many years ago. The addition also has pantry, a mudroom/laundry room with a door to the rear deck, and a ceramic tiled powder room equipped with a urinal. That was Michael's idea but Cindy appreciates it.
"It's really a nice feature, because men don't like to lift the seat," Cindy says.
The second floor has three guest bedrooms, a remodeled hall bathroom and a master suite with hardwood floors, two closets and a private bath with whirlpool tub.
The remodeled horse barn has a paver floor, six 10-by-10-foot stalls, running water, electric and a built-in sound system. There's also a feed room and a barn to store hay.
Michael and Cindy raised two sons and a daughter in the house and, not surprisingly, all of them grew up riding horses.
"It's an awesome place to raise kids," Cindy says. "You can turn them loose outside. And because we had horses, we had the whole neighborhood here. At dinner time we usually had 8 to 10 people at the table."
With the kids all grown (they range in age from 25-33), the Ruffos are ready to downsize and relocate.
"It's hard to move," Cindy says. "I like the peace and quiet. I like being able to yell at my horses and my dog. But it's a big house and it needs kids in it again."
Next stop is northeastern Tennessee, where Michael and Cindy have purchased 50 acres of property and hope to build a house. The property also has an appeal that a tax collector can appreciate.
"The taxes are $150 a year," Michael says. "Even if we build a house like this, they would only be about $1,000."
Not that the Ruffos' taxes are all that high, especially by New Jersey standards.
"Our property is farmland assessed so the taxes are very reasonable, around $6,000 a year," Cindy says.
For more information on this property, which is listed for $499,000, Maryann DeRosa Previti of Prudential Diversified, 609-517-7520.
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