Regarding the July 25 story, "Official backs consolidating tax work":
The idea to consolidate Atlantic County's tax assessments is a proposal whose time has come. Municipalities can no longer afford the problems associated with eroding tax bases and the resentment resulting from inequitable assessments.
New Jersey's reliance on real estate taxes to fund schools, county and municipal governments demands that all property assessments reflect true market value and that assessments keep pace with ever-changing value trends. Local assessors do not have the trained staff or sophisticated equipment to do the job.
Just because the state Office of Legislative Services says the savings are unknown is no reason this proposal should not be considered. The advantage is not in the relatively minimal savings compared with operating an assessors office in every municipality. The savings come from reducing the time wasted by local assessors attempting to defend outdated assessments. More important, a county-run system, if properly administered, should reduce or possibly eliminate the need for costly revaluations.
Someday New Jersey may get around to reforming its tax system so that property owners are not required to pay the highest property taxes in the nation. In the meantime, we need to improve the inefficiencies of the current system.
As a former employee of the New Jersey Local Property Tax Bureau and former Mercer County freeholder many years ago, I was chairman of a state Division of Taxation committee that studied consolidation. It was generally agreed that regionalization made a lot of sense, but, at that time, pressure from municipal officials killed a proposal to test the idea with a pilot program.
Hopefully, this time around mayors and other elected officials will get behind this proposal. I would like to see each governing body pass resolutions in support of a pilot program.