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Complete Recovery In Ocean County Will Take 3 Years, Freeholders Say

Revaluations of severely damaged or destroyed properties and adjusting tax base, budgets for 2013 must be a priority, freeholder says

Property owners who suffered significant damage or whose homes or properties were completely destroyed by Hurricane Sandy are entitled to have their properties reassessed for tax purposes, Freeholder Deputy Director John C. Bartlett says.

However, many people do not know that. And the ramifications of that are staggering, Bartlett said Wednesday at the Ocean County Board of Freeholders' bimonthly preboard meeting.

The impact will be felt throughout the county, but most acutely in those towns where the damage was the greatest and they will need help, Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari said.

"It’s going to take at least three years to recover (fully)," Vicari said.

The issue of property taxes has been on the minds of many homeowners in the days since Sandy turned lives upside down and washed homes away. Many asked about fourth-quarter property taxes, which came due just two days after Sandy destroyed so much. And while many towns have taken steps to try to mitigate what surely feels like salt in a very raw wound, state law governs the collection of the taxes, town officials have said.

Municipal budgets are made up based on the town's tax base. That figure -- the total assessed value of properties in the town -- is based on the value of the properties as of Oct. 1 of the previous year.

"By current law, the number on books (for each property) as of Oct. 1 is the valuation the assessor and town are required to use" in calculating property taxes, Bartlett said.

Because many people are not aware that they can request a revaluation, there is the potential for a significant number of tax appeals next year, which creates problems for towns trying to create or stick to a budget, Bartlett said, not to mention the anger of those who are billed for property taxes on a house that no longer exists.

The problem, Bartlett said, is that under current state law, only the property owner can request a revaluation.

"The tax assessor is not authorized to do it on his or her own," Bartlett said.

Bartlett said he spoke with Gov. Chris Christie regarding the issue, and said the governor is very aware of the impending problem and is looking for a solution, whether it's through legislation or through an executive order telling tax assessors to conduct revaluations of damaged properties.

"He is going to take the bull by the horns and resolve this issue, Bartlett said. "This is a freight train rolling at us that we can derail."

Long-term, however, the impact of the reduced property values will be significant, especially for the smaller barrier island towns, Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari said.

"It’s going to take at least three years to recover (fully)," Vicari said, that the smaller towns will need help to survive during that time, because of the significant drop in their tax base.

Bartlett said that impact will be felt countywide, because the barrier island towns make up a third of the county's total tax base -- roughly $33 billion of the county's $100 billion base.

"It is incumbent on all of us – municipalities and the county – to delay our (2013) budgeting process until these revaluations are done," Bartlett said.

Andy November 16, 2012 at 04:14 AM
@Art..where did Guess who say he wanted his taxes lowered?
Lori McCutcheon November 16, 2012 at 03:09 PM
I was there Thursday. Saw our house which had 3 ½ feet of water and sludge in it. 1st floor is a total loss but the structure looks good for us. Not like our neighbors. At least 8 houses have been deemed structurally unsound just on our block. We were able to enter them all though. So I hope others can get in theirs and get the things that mean the most to them. I was so impressed with the police, the twp, the FD, salvation Army and everyone lending a hand. The marine police and coast guard were there to protect the island from the waters, and police from all over the country were there to protect the land. It was very secure and well handled. Friendly people and so many people with the same concerns and the same issues all working together to see each other and lend a hand. This is the time to pull together to make new friends, rekindle old ones and work together to bring this community back to where it was but better, stronger and one for all. PLease all stop bickering and count your belssings. YOU ARE ALIVE!!! the rest is just stuff. What's w/ the Surf Club reunion? It may be great time to connect to all the Ortley people to bring us all together to bring this town back and make it whole again. I really think we need to focus on a safe, sound, common community that we all come together for. I love Ortley. Let's work together to make it a better place than ever before. Business should flourish, now ORTLEY is on the map, everyone will know where Ortley is. God Bless!
J Diaz November 18, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Well put.
Angelo Turello November 20, 2012 at 12:31 PM
During the dialog over the last re-evaluation when the Island valuation and taxes doubled and tripled, the common cry from "mainlanders" was now the islanders can pay their fair share. So I guess $33 Billion is fair for garbage pickup, which is all we get from TR.
Angelo Turello November 20, 2012 at 12:36 PM
If the greedy SOB's in Toms River let us seceed when we wanted to, you wouldnt be paying us a dime. Now because of the greed of Toms River, you need to pay....you should have let us go when you had the chance.
Angelo Turello November 20, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Listen to the mainlanders complain about paying for the barrier island folks. Well guess what ?...we pay 30% of your taxes and we get garbage collection and send a handful of kids to your schools. You raised our assessments and tripled our taxes. That was fine while you got the revenue (30% of your tax burden paid by us islanders). Years ago we wanted to secede from Toms River but they wouldn’t let us. They wanted the tax revenue and they wanted to continue to suck us dry and have us pay 30% of the taxes. Now you complain about helping us. Do us all a favor…mainlanders and barrier island folks. LET US SECEDE FROM TOMS RIVER LIKE WE WANTED TO YEARS AGO. If you won’t do that , then shut up and pay up.
Angelo Turello November 20, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Listen to the mainlanders complain about paying for the barrier island folks. Well guess what ?...we pay 30% of your taxes and we get garbage collection and send a handful of kids to your schools. You raised our assessments and tripled our taxes. That was fine while you got the revenue (30% of your tax burden paid by us islanders). Years ago we wanted to secede from Toms River but they wouldn’t let us. They wanted the tax revenue and they wanted to continue to suck us dry and have us pay 30% of the taxes. Now you complain about helping us. Do us all a favor…mainlanders and barrier island folks. LET US SECEDE FROM TOMS RIVER LIKE WE WANTED TO YEARS AGO. If you won’t do that , then shut up and pay up.
Angelo Turello November 20, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Listen to the mainlanders complain about paying for the barrier island folks. Well guess what ?...we pay 30% of your taxes and we get garbage collection and send a handful of kids to your schools. You raised our assessments and tripled our taxes. That was fine while you got the revenue (30% of your tax burden paid by us islanders). Years ago we wanted to secede from Toms River but they wouldn’t let us. They wanted the tax revenue and they wanted to continue to suck us dry and have us pay 30% of the taxes. Now you complain about helping us. Do us all a favor…mainlanders and barrier island folks. LET US SECEDE FROM TOMS RIVER LIKE WE WANTED TO YEARS AGO. If you won’t do that , then shut up and pay up.
Angelo Turello November 20, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Listen to the mainlanders complain about paying for the barrier island folks. Well guess what ?...we pay 30% of your taxes and we get garbage collection and send a handful of kids to your schools. You raised our assessments and tripled our taxes. That was fine while you got the revenue (30% of your tax burden paid by us islanders). Years ago we wanted to secede from Toms River but they wouldn’t let us. They wanted the tax revenue and they wanted to continue to suck us dry and have us pay 30% of the taxes. Now you complain about helping us. Do us all a favor…mainlanders and barrier island folks. LET US SECEDE FROM TOMS RIVER LIKE WE WANTED TO YEARS AGO. If you won’t do that , then shut up and pay up.
Angelo Turello November 20, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Listen to the mainlanders complain about paying for the barrier island folks. Well guess what ?...we pay 30% of your taxes and we get garbage collection and send a handful of kids to your schools. You raised our assessments and tripled our taxes. That was fine while you got the revenue (30% of your tax burden paid by us islanders). Years ago we wanted to secede from Toms River but they wouldn’t let us. They wanted the tax revenue and they wanted to continue to suck us dry and have us pay 30% of the taxes. Now you complain about helping us. Do us all a favor…mainlanders and barrier island folks. LET US SECEDE FROM TOMS RIVER LIKE WE WANTED TO YEARS AGO. If you won’t do that , then shut up and pay up.
Angelo Turello November 20, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Listen to the mainlanders complain about paying for the barrier island folks. Well guess what ?...we pay 30% of your taxes and we get garbage collection and send a handful of kids to your schools. You raised our assessments and tripled our taxes. That was fine while you got the revenue (30% of your tax burden paid by us islanders). Years ago we wanted to secede from Toms River but they wouldn’t let us. They wanted the tax revenue and they wanted to continue to suck us dry and have us pay 30% of the taxes. Now you complain about helping us. Do us all a favor…mainlanders and barrier island folks. LET US SECEDE FROM TOMS RIVER LIKE WE WANTED TO YEARS AGO. If you won’t do that , then shut up and pay up.
Angelo Turello November 20, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Listen to the mainlanders complain about paying for the barrier island folks. Well guess what ?...we pay 30% of your taxes and we get garbage collection and send a handful of kids to your schools. You raised our assessments and tripled our taxes. That was fine while you got the revenue (30% of your tax burden paid by us islanders). Years ago we wanted to secede from Toms River but they wouldn’t let us. They wanted the tax revenue and they wanted to continue to suck us dry and have us pay 30% of the taxes. Now you complain about helping us. Do us all a favor…mainlanders and barrier island folks. LET US SECEDE FROM TOMS RIVER LIKE WE WANTED TO YEARS AGO. If you won’t do that , then shut up and pay up.
Angelo Turello November 20, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Listen to the mainlanders complain about paying for the barrier island folks. Well guess what ?...we pay 30% of your taxes and we get garbage collection and send a handful of kids to your schools. You raised our assessments and tripled our taxes. That was fine while you got the revenue (30% of your tax burden paid by us islanders). Years ago we wanted to secede from Toms River but they wouldn’t let us. They wanted the tax revenue and they wanted to continue to suck us dry and have us pay 30% of the taxes. Now you complain about helping us. Do us all a favor…mainlanders and barrier island folks. LET US SECEDE FROM TOMS RIVER LIKE WE WANTED TO YEARS AGO. If you won’t do that , then shut up and pay up.
Angelo Turello November 20, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Listen to the mainlanders complain about paying for the barrier island folks. Well guess what ?...we pay 30% of your taxes and we get garbage collection and send a handful of kids to your schools. You raised our assessments and tripled our taxes. That was fine while you got the revenue (30% of your tax burden paid by us islanders). Years ago we wanted to secede from Toms River but they wouldn’t let us. They wanted the tax revenue and they wanted to continue to suck us dry and have us pay 30% of the taxes. Now you complain about helping us. Do us all a favor…mainlanders and barrier island folks. LET US SECEDE FROM TOMS RIVER LIKE WE WANTED TO YEARS AGO. If you won’t do that , then shut up and pay up.
foggyworld November 29, 2012 at 08:54 PM
I am a resident of Good Luck Point in Bayville and the notion of tax increases just doesn't fly with me or my neighbors who have been devastated. I have asked for a list of every single dime spent on our behalf out here by any government agency - and I don't include drive through tourist visits with no stops. We have received but not the first week, our regular once a week garbage pick up which because so many cans ended up in the Bay or the ocean, must have meant for a much lower pick up than normal. We the People out here have hired dumpsters and equipment and have been helping clean up all of the properties here and we are getting there slowly. Berkeley Township has not donated so much as a carton of Hefty Bags. I was able to get some lovely help from the Lacey (two towns away) Methodist Church and I am now writing to manufacturers to ask for other things. So before blaming those of us who were so badly hit and using it as an excuse to raise taxes, I do believe the citizens are entitled to a complete and detailed listing of all the money they say they have been spending on us. We haven't seen it and I think someone is taping things with a security camera to verify who is doing what. We did not ask for a policeman to sit in a warm car with a radio to wave us in because almost everyone was here on day 3 to clean out anything and everything of value.
foggyworld November 29, 2012 at 09:05 PM
There have been a few metal scavengers but the police did not ticket any I saw and they were good enough to do their work so that they left things they didn't want by the curbs. It would have been nice to see the triple dipping Mayor during week one but that never materialized and still hasn't though I read here he was drinking coffee and eating bagels to celebrate the work done out here with his civil servants on Thanks-giving. I'm not sure where the festivities were but I was here all day and would have loved a cup of coffee but I'm just a taxpayer who hasn't witnessed any of the work being celebrated. The ONLY politician in this town who has expressed any real interest is Jim Byrnes, the President of the Town Council, who in spite of losing his own home came and visited with his wife. He does receive email updates because obviously his own plate is full and his one trip will last him a lifetime I suspect. Now we asked that the policeman be removed because there is nothing to loot but he's still here and yesterday one actually helped by stopping us and telling us there were a couple of blankets dropped off. I took them and told him we would collect anything even if we had to rent storage space so that the people these things were intended to go to would get them. Others had been stealing. So thank you to that officer. And also thank you to our mail man Ed, who was the only federal civil servant who did a thing for us.
foggyworld November 29, 2012 at 09:13 PM
One afternoon Ed asked me when I last ate and I said the day before. When he got off duty he apparently went in his own car and purchased a ham and cheese sub and a cup of real coffee for me. No meal will ever taste as good as that one did. And not a bit of that is on his job description. We want a listing of all municipal, county, State and federal employees whose services we haven't seen to submit a listing of money spent to date on Good Luck Point. And we want the names and jobs done described as well as the time spent and at what location and the burdened pay rate applied. We also want to know if overtime pay was involved. It's time to stop playing games and using every thing under the sun as an excuse to raise taxes in this the most heavily taxed State in the nation which permits double and triple dipping as well as huge payments to the chosen ones who sit on Commissions. Enough. We can't pay more and won't pay for services not rendered. The jig is up.
foggyworld November 29, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Please understand something. Those in damaged homes are already in financial trouble. FEMA no longer fixes a thing. If you qualify and apparently even if you didn't pay the premiums due, you can apply for loans NTE $200K for an entire new home. Now while paying off that loan, the property owners will be paying taxes on what we are not sure yet and mortgage payments will still have to be paid. There are some people who needed housing and food but my neighbors are all living with friends and relatives and not costing anyone else a dime. I have asked our Township to provide our community with a line by line listing of every penny spent on our behalf by town workers. And then I am going to move on up because the work done here is being done by the homeowners and a few volunteers. We have leased our own dumpsters and pay for help. This is shaping up to be a ruse to raise taxes because the people in need are permitted to apply for loans from Fema (no gifts) while they pay property taxes and mortgages. The government from where we sit has done nothing. We who didn't lose our garbage cans do get our regular once a week pick up and a policeman we don't need because we cleaned our own and others houses of all things of value. I don't want to pay for helicopter visits or anything else we as a community did not request or receive. And rumor has it someone has a camera filming the work in process to identify who should get paid. Smart idea.
foggyworld November 29, 2012 at 09:35 PM
No you aren't but do write to our triple-dipping no show Mayor!
foggyworld November 29, 2012 at 09:49 PM
My neighbors and I are not selfish snobs and after reading the history above, I think we on Good Luck Point ought to part ways from Berkeley Township. We have no kids in the public schools systems and could do very well by having to pay for our garbage to be picked up and our roads plowed. We would probably hire one or two of our own to do the work and then seek a nearby fire company that would cover us when we have a once in every fifty years fire. We again could do our own street repairs and have volunteer cops and a town council made up of every homeowner. It's going to come to that if our triple dipping mayor and his pals don't wake up and smell the roses. We just cannot afford these taxes for which we get nothing in return. And again, we are not snobs at all. Not a house here with three bathrooms but a mix of blue collar folks, some elderly people and a few white collars. And we don't look at each other that way, thank God.
foggyworld November 29, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Just who do you think is paying for this? We sent premium money to FEMA but it came out before the election that the President transferred FEMA's bucks to Homeland Security (See Woodward's latest book or read NYTimes interview with federal head of FEMA. The President & all those other lawyers who rarely study science decided this would be a year of no disasters. So for the premium, we get the opportunity to BORROW money from them and we can add that payment to our existing mortgage and ever increasing tax payments. I would agree the Bay probably changed shape but Good Luck Point gained sand. What was wrong was that building codes in NJ are a travesty and are kept that way by politicians. When we built our house in 1998, I substituted North Carolina and Florida coast building regulations for those from Berkeley Township. Our house is still standing and had a breakaway wall that performed exactly as expected. There is no excuse for those codes not being Xeroxed tomorrow but watch what doesn't happen because big builders have political clout. Hurricanes are kind. You know they are coming and can do things to mitigate damage. A tornado doesn't give you that break. But the houses themselves have to be built to the worst case scenario and that just has not been done. People laughed at our lightening rods but they've saved us twice. Demand better building codes from the politicians who receive contributions from builders & this won't reoccur.
foggyworld November 29, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Good Luck Point was hit very badly and all I received from the Red Cross was an email asking for a contribution. We still haven't seen the Red Cross out here so I wrote them and ask them to remove my name from their mailing list. I woud LOVE to know where all those donated monies and articles have gone because other than a few small donations from the Lacey Methodist Church we have received exactly zero from the do-gooders. The taxpayers are not paying for our reconstruction. If we apply we can get a LOAN from FEMA which we must pay back with interest along with our ever escalating property taxes and our mortgage payments which will stay level unless we have APR's. What the fund raising is about is a total mystery to me because people with good hearts want to help but the only effective ones have been the folks who came here from out of State churches and have actually gotten their hands dirty. And our new houses will of course bring raised taxes so VoiceofReason, you are barking up the wrong tree. Seaside is apparently private enterprise and based on the rest of our experiences, they will rebuild with insurance money and their own money. And if the State puts a dime into those new buildings and boardwalk, there will be a lawsuit by the homeowners who haven't received so much as a box of Hefty bags though we, too, have been threatened with higher taxes in return for nothing. Where have all the flowers gone ......
foggyworld November 29, 2012 at 10:21 PM
We may just have to adjust instead to life with fewer civil "servants" and expensive Commission members. I for one would like to see double and triple dipping made illegal. Do that and watch the balanced budget come into view. Eliminate nonsensical jobs and we will get even closer.
foggyworld November 29, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Have a heart. That is one big embarrassment to us all. Those folks need decent housing and this county provides absolutely none of it for those who are truly poor and indigent. How much would you think charging them for a permit to put up a tarp over their tin or plywood roofs would lessen your load?
foggyworld November 29, 2012 at 10:27 PM
And you will also get to pay for all sorts of folks if we have an earthquake or a tornado or Oyster Creek has a bad day. How about saying out loud, "There but for the grace of God, go I."
foggyworld November 29, 2012 at 10:39 PM
I'm an Independent but in this situation the blame in good part lies at the feet of the current President who according to Bob Woodward's recent book and verified by the current federal Director of FEMA, when given a list of moves of money that he believed he legally could make (?), the President who is not a scientist declared we wouldn't have a disaster this year. So he took the premium monies and other funds in FEMA and moved them over to Homeland Security. The FEMA well is dry folks so we who paid into the fund now will be given the wonderful opportunity to BORROW money from them which we must repay with interest. Katrina this is not. Nor is it Florida or the Gulf Oil spill. In my devastated area, this is truly a do-it-yourself-and-with-your-neighbors project which some of us are funding by donating dumpsters and renting equipment and picking up heaven knows what with our very own hands. We do get our once a week garbage can pick up but most of us found our cans had blown away - after the storm. At the moment, nothing much is actually funded in this entire nation: they are juggling balls in the air which we all know can't last forever.
foggyworld November 29, 2012 at 10:48 PM
Those new houses if the legislators ever get around to it will be similar to those used for coastal building in North Carolina and Florida. And their taxes will zoom up. New Jersey has the worst building standards for on-the-water building of any state in the Union. Why? Well there are big builders that make big contributions to those at all levels of government to insure the cost of building a four bathroom mansion is kept to it very lowest. They receive big bucks for those mansions but will never voluntarily build them to hurricane codes. Why are towns around here at this very moment issuing permits for people to patch things up to the old, sloppy standards? The reason is our leaders haven't buckled down and just Xeroxed the North Carolina building codes for starters and make them effective immediately. They could be adjusted later if necessary but it would be one hell of a start. To rebuild to fishing shack standards is to ask for yet another mess. That's why people laugh when we say we are from NJ. We are thought of as stupid folks with an unusually corrupt method of government.
foggyworld November 29, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Tina, I felt the way you do for a few weeks and then decided to use the internet to reach out and ask for help from any and all. My whole neighborhood is devastated and the people are, too. But after two weeks of absolutely no response from anywhere I started pushing. It's hard work but please try because there genuinely are people who want to help but don't know where we are. So for starters, tell us where you are and what your area needs and when it would be best for people to show up to help. And ignore those who are obviously much more interested in their own little worlds and still don't understand what John Donne said in the 1600's: No man is an island. But you get busy and watch the help come at you. But none of the governmental or charitable big time groups are even worth contacting. Patch has a section where you can ask for volunteers of labor and goods. Write one a day until your area is filled with people of good will. They are here. And thank you Patch for keeping the wires open for we who need so badly to just be heard.
Bowie Thelonius November 29, 2012 at 11:56 PM
An unpopular but realistic solution. Houses should NEVER have built so close to the ocean, it doesn't make sense. And BTW, barrier islands should revert back to being actual barriers.
mjmjr December 05, 2012 at 09:22 AM
WHERE WERE THE POLITICIANS IN TOMS RIVER TO HELP THE PEOPLE,NOWHERE TO BE FOUND..VOTE THEM OUT.

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