Jersey City attempted to cancel a property tax revaluation which was started in 2011 and had not been done in 28 years. The mayor has now agreed to stop stalling and proceed with the reval, but unlike the city claims, people should not and will not lose their homes, IF the mayor and council members get in front of the issue by educating and informing homeowners of their options.
The reval will be disruptive, but homeowners hit with higher taxes can take advantage of their increased equity by selling and purchasing a home that pays less tax or banking the proceeds and renting. If they are 62 or older, they may be able to obtain a reverse mortgage and use the proceeds to pay their new higher taxes and remain in their home.
The city also should be exploring other ways to mitigate the impact of the reval on the most vulnerable long-term owner occupants through reducing the assessed value of properties via a homestead exemption program. Homeowners should be urged to be proactive in seeking remedies.
It is important to note that many home owners will see a reduction in their taxes, which perhaps more than any redevelopment plan, can help spur investment and development.
While the Jersey City 2016 Municipal Budget was introduced in March
2016 without a property tax increase, it is now likely that the proposed budget will need to be increased to include expenses related to the failed lawsuit against the reval company and to start the reval over again. The cost of this fiasco may approach $8.5m requiring an increase in taxes.
This administration has continued to expand spending, from
$455,575,400 in 2012 to $553,128,653 in 2016, an increase of 21 percent (5.36 percent per year) which will only make the pain of the property tax revaluation worse.
Much of the increases have not been invested into the city beyond hiring more people to handle complaints at city hall, legal expenses and out of town political hires. Services and infrastructure continue to deteriorate, our roads are in horrendous condition, traffic and pedestrian safety enforcement feels non-existent, our city website is not being utilized to deliver services or expanded to provide more information, we have very few bus shelters, there has been no new open space created, while money has been spent on recreation and continuing park renovations, our students have few places to do school work and access the internet as our libraries along with being in poor condition, have limited night and weekend hours, and the list goes on.
The mayor and council members did not create the problem, but they must now correct the resulting tax unfairness where the poorest parts of the city subsidize the wealthiest. As the coalition, Jersey City Together has shown, the tax inequity has fallen along racial lines.