Egg Harbor Township has begun mailing assessment notices to property owners following the municipality’s first revaluation since 1996.
In the 16 years since, the township has seen various infrastructure improvements, a real estate boom and subsequent bust. Officials say it’s unclear what impact the average homeowners will see on their tax bills given the tremendous changes that have occurred in that time.
“The first goal of a revaluation is to level the playing field, to make all the assessments more uniform,” Tax Assessor Maryanne Lavner said.
A revaluation doesn’t change the township’s overall tax burden, but changes in the assessments of properties will change individual tax bills.
Lavner said the assessments — which take into account recent sales of similar properties — reflect market value as of Oct. 1. Property owners will be able to meet with the assessors to review their assessments prior to the release of the final numbers Feb. 1; after which time formal appeals must be filed by May 1.
Jim Manghan, vice president of the revaluation firm Vital Communications, said that initial process is usually amicable.
“It’s not a judgment type thing,” he said. “We review the property and any issues we’re able to address with them.”
A decision will be mailed to the property owner in late January or early February, Manghan said, but the informal review doesn’t prohibit the person from filing a formal appeal later.
Lavner said she expects some property owners may appeal their assessment based on damage sustained by superstorm Sandy last month, but it likely won’t have a major impact on the tax base.
“When I add up all the properties I figure might be at risk (in places like West Atlantic City and Seaview Harbor), I come to about 500 homes,” she said. “We have about 14,000 homes in the township, so even if all of them were — God forbid — demolished, I don’t think it’ll change our end result.”
Preliminary figures show that residential properties make up about 81 percent of the township’s total tax base of $2.9 billion. In total, Lavner said, there are about 14,000 residential properties compared to 900 commercial ones.
Interestingly, she said, 300 of those commercial properties are “dockominiums,” or individual boat slips purchased by private owners.
While municipalities typically perform a revaluation every 10 years, Egg Harbor Township officials delayed the process in order to wait for home prices to stabilize. Many towns that performed revaluations in the mid-2000s, such as Little Egg Harbor Township and Wildwood, have had to repeat that costly process sooner than expected.
The township awarded the $1.09 million revaluation contract to the Trenton-based Vital Communications in 2010.
Lavner said the contract also includes an improved property database with color photographs of every structure in the township. Barring any delays due to appeals, she said, the township will receive that database with the final assessments in February.
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