VINELAND — About 21,000 people who own homes and businesses are getting their new property assessments, courtesy of the city's first revaluation since Eisenhower was president and gasoline cost 30 cents a gallon.
But just how much in taxes property owners will pay under the new assessments remains to be determined.
Appraisal Systems Inc. Vice President Brett Trout, whose company performed the revaluation, said his company is holding informal meetings with residents who do not agree with their new assessments. The company will give the city what it considers to be a final list of new assessments at the end of February or the beginning of March, he said.
City Tax Assessor Donald Seifrit said that is when the municipality will know the updated value of all its residential and commercial properties. The city will strike a local purpose tax rate for the year when it sets the municipal budget, and the new structure will be in place for the third-quarter tax bill, he said.
Property in the city is currently assessed at about $2.1 billion, which local officials estimate to be between 52 percent and 54 percent of its actual worth.
The average residential property assessment is $95,700. A city resident owning a property assessed at that figure pays $1,282 in local purpose taxes annually.
City and Cumberland County tax officials said revaluations generally result in a third of a municipality's property owners paying less taxes, a third paying about the same amount and third paying more.
Neither Trout nor Seifrit said they know for sure how that will play out in Vineland.
Revaluations are designed to bring property values up to 100 percent of their full market value. That creates a more equitable tax situation for property owners, and gives municipalities more flexibility in various financial matters, such as bonding.
The city last performed a full-scale revaluation in 1959. There have been a few reassessments since that time, with the last one occurring in 1989. A reassessment is not as detailed as a revaluation, and the results are not as accurate, Seifrit said.
The state wants municipalities to hold revaluations when their true market value drops to less than 85 percent. The Cumberland County Board of Taxation ordered the city in September 2010 to finally hold a full revaluation.
The revaluation cost about $1.5 million.
Seifrit and Trout said property owners who have questions about their new assessments, or who disagree with their new assessments, are scheduling meetings with officials from Appraisal Systems. The company will hold those meetings for a few more weeks, Trout said.
Property owners who wish to formally dispute the assessments have until May 1 to file an appeal with the county tax board.
"The vast majority of people don't file an appeal," Trout said.
Trout and Seifrit said the revaluation went very smoothly.
"This is a large community," Trout said. "We didn't have too many people who gave us a hard time."
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