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Tax Increases In Shore Towns A Certainty After Superstorm Sandy

Budget increases due to storm costs, plummeting ratables make a nasty mix

Jersey Shore residents shouldn't waste any time wondering if their taxes will go up in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

They will. Without a doubt.

That was the somber message tax attorney Jeff J. Horn had for members of the Regular Republican Organization of Berkeley Township Monday night.

Toms River-based Horn was originally scheduled to speak along with Berkeley Tax Assessor Eric L. Zanetti at the Central Regional Middle School, but Zanetti had to cancel because of bronchitis.

Municipal, county and school budgets will rise, as officials struggle with plummeting ratable bases due to the storm which slammed into the Jersey Shore on Oct. 29, he said.

"The ripple effect is going to impact all of us," Horn said. "That's the basics. It is going to cost all of us a couple of bucks."

Deadline to appeal looming

Horn urged any homeowners whose property was destroyed or substantially damaged to file for a reduction in their property assessments, under a little-known state statute.

State statute N.J.S.A. 54:4-35.1 allow residents to appeal for the material depreciation of their homes due to natural disasters like Sandy from Oct. 1 to Jan. 10 the following year, Horn said.

"How many people know about the law?" he asked. "Nobody."

Berkeley homeowners impacted by Sandy must notify Zanetti by Jan. 10 to request an inspection for a possible drop in their property assessments, he said.

"Just give him a piece of paper with your name and address on it," Horn said. "That is sufficient notice."

Residents who do receive reduced assessments will only keep them until their homes are rebuilt or habitable again.

"If you rebuild, it's put back on the tax rolls," he said. "If you can live in the house, it's substantially complete."

For residents who are unsure if they should ask for a reconsideration of their assessments, Horn had an answer.

"I would err on the side of caution and send in the form," he said. "Leave it to the assessor to do the right thing and take something off."

Horn is a past member of the Ocean County Board of Taxation.

"The standard is to take off 30 percent," he said. "The key is to give the assessor a chance. I was on the board. I always gave the person the benefit of the doubt. I always took that improvement off."

Rising insurance costs

Homeowners and flood insurance costs will surely rise over the next several years.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency's advisory base flood elevations were issued in December.

"The code is changing," he said. "There's no question about that. It's going to cost you more money. It's not a happy event for anybody, even those whose property has not been impacted."

Horn said he is repeatedly asked 'Who is going to buy my house?' " since Sandy.

"You can talk to 10 different persons, you get 10 different opinions," he said. "I have no idea."

Recovering from Sandy will take quite some time, Horn said.

"People are going to suffer badly," he said. "Say you have to raise your house. We're talking about a lot of money. How fast are you going to be able to get it done? Not everyone is going to be able to run right in and get rebuilt. We're running out of legitimate contractors."

Towns like Seaside Heights are already borrowing money to rebuild boardwalks and other shore attractions, which will impact tax rates for years, he said.

"That builds a fixed item into the  budget that can never go down until it's paid off," he said.

"Everybody who pays taxes is getting a tax increase," Horn said.

charlie January 08, 2013 at 03:07 PM
They can adjust only for improvements. If your just replacing/repairing taxes should remain the same. And you always have the option to appeal. Which will be easy to get. Unless you don't feel property values will drop.
Ryan Meyers January 08, 2013 at 03:09 PM
You are correct, they do work for us. Bu tin Brick, so do their family members and friends.
Coreen Onnembo January 08, 2013 at 03:17 PM
After 3 tax appeals over the past 10 years I finally had my house at a rate that was fair to both parties. My house was destroyed by Sandy and is set for demolition, condemned by Toms River officials.. Does this mean they'll cut my taxes again but then tax like they did when I first started once we rebuild? Doesn't make sense...Why would they pour salt into an already bleeding wound?
Jo Amesco January 08, 2013 at 03:32 PM
Raise my taxes a few hundered dollars, I understand,, raise my taxes anything past that - I walk away. I will leave my home to the mortgage company to deal with on their own. I owe mare than what the house is worth, the insurance company wont pay me enough to fix it correctly - FEMA has their guide lines, I do not have cash out of pocket for thousands of dollars of repairs not $50,000 to raise it. Bottom line, If I walk away - I spend $4000 for a good bankruptcey attorney out of North Jersey and in 5 years - I'm back on my feet. My second option - I will wait for a few fellas from lakewood to offer me cash for the land,, and I'll walk.. they will build their city. property taxes will go up - and another town will crash. - Town by town, fall by fall, we will soon begin to see this pattern.. Just watch... it's only a matter of when this is going to happen. A guy down the block from already packed up and abandon thier home. another couple are seriously looking at this today - it's taking too long to resolve issues and ongoing problems. Everyone dragged their ass all the way up to the white house.. the people are the ones who ALL got hurt here,, not just one - EVERYONE - who lives with in 5 miles of the coast line.. from AC to NYC. it's katrina all over again. this times - it's the Tri-State area on a much larger scale..
Chief Wahoo January 08, 2013 at 03:53 PM
Well if your property taxes are currently at the robbery figure of 10,000..... You can expect the town and county to go up 30%.... So that is about 1500 increase for the 30% on their half of the bill. The other half of the bill is for the baby sitting cabal. While they will not be able to take full advantage of the hurricane , they will not let the crisis go to waste and probably can push for 10%. So that will be another 500 increase on their half of the 5000. Now you have your property tax increase of 2000. Finally remember this is not just a one year increase but will be year after year after year. Get 3 jobs if needed but the public employees expect their vigs to be paid and don't be late !
Michael Capo January 08, 2013 at 04:15 PM
Toms River government is in over their heads. They have never had to deal with something of this magnitude and its complexities. Some think they are doing a good job . I thought so initially when Mastronardy was in charge. Now I wonder who is in charge. I live in Ortley Beach. I go there on the days I am allowed and I see very slow progress on all fronts. I hear my neighbors stories of items being stolen from their houses. One thing I am certain of is that while our recovery of our homes is going slowly, Toms River's recovery of their taxes and the hikes in all insurances will move at warp speed.
Slippery Slope January 08, 2013 at 04:17 PM
All true.
bayvillemom January 08, 2013 at 04:24 PM
Why dont they impose a tourism tax on all businesses on the barrier islands and areas where the tourists like to visit??? Let them pay to rebuild the areas they like to vacation in....I dont go to sleaside why should I pay for it??
Peter M. Clausen III January 08, 2013 at 05:15 PM
just remember, it was you that voted those politicians into office. the county free holders, who spend money without any requests or votes. they just add another tax or another bond. look at the township budgets and go to meetings. tell those idiots NO! if they don't listen petition them out of office. how many of you voted for the sheriff who had not been in his office for years? two months after he's re-elected he dies. Anybody else know he was sick? as I said, you voted for these people.
Pale Rider January 08, 2013 at 05:42 PM
Right...appealing a tax increase and succeeding is akin to presenting yourself before Torquemada, during the SPANISH INQUISITION, and trying to convince him that you are not a heretic. BTW...where are our NJ US SENATORS in all of this? Before "SANDY" there was a breaking scandal on DRUDGE re. Menendez...flying out of Teterboro Airport on a private jet and visiting said owner in the Dominican Republic...where he "promised" to pay a pair of "Sporting Women" $500 for "entertainment"...but then stiffed them and only coughed up $100. The other one, aka THE MUMMY RETURNS, has vanished...perhaps to assist in the further abrogation of our CONSTITUTION. Perhaps it would be wiser to defund ALL wasteful FEDERAL AGENCIES, as well as the New Egyptian MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD Government, "FEEL-GOOD" third-world assisted fundings, et al, and utilize those funds for OUR REBUILDING! "QUEM DEUS VULT PERDERE, DEMENTAT PRIUS."...Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.
Jose January 08, 2013 at 06:04 PM
I don't get it. Seasiderebuikds their boardwalk and the homeowner gets taxed? Don't rebuild the boardwalk. Leave it natural and let the mayor and politicians take a pay cut. Worse case scenario, a one time special assessment. Taxpayers shouldn't be paying for the same storm 20 yrs. from now.
Mad Hatter January 08, 2013 at 06:16 PM
Raising taxes is a joke...just an excuse for more pocket padding for politicians, the feds picked up a majority of the cost, taxes in ocean county are already obscene, raising them will just make more people flee the area and or state, and you cant blame them
Michael Capo January 08, 2013 at 06:57 PM
EVERYONE NEEDS TO LOOK AT THIS >http://www.tomsrivertownship.com/downloads/FEMA-ABFE-Review-Letter.pdf SEE ATTACHMENT B1 IT IS THE LETTER FROM TOMS RIVER ENGINEER ASKING FEMA TO CHANGE ORTLEY BEACH TO A "V" FLOOD ZONE. THIS IS THE WORST ZONE WHERE NEW DEVELOPMENT AND REBUILDING ARE SEVERELY IMPACTED AS WILL BE INSURANCE AND CONSTRUCTION COSTS. WHAT A GREAT HELP THEY ARE.
molly January 08, 2013 at 07:36 PM
OB will not recover; it is for all practical purposes a borough with no infastructure to support a recovery. There never was a master plan for development , beach protection did not exist. Storms will occur again,and for OB this will not be good. I drove around yesterday and noticed numerous streets sinking or undermined as they are just asphalt paved over sand versus a roadbed that supports asphalt. No curbs,very few sidewalks,etc. Given future tax/ins costs and potential for other storms,you really need to think through the whole process of rebuilding. Remeber,whats documented and paid for in this flood ins goa round,wont be paid again if event occurs in 5 years.
Beth McLane January 08, 2013 at 08:45 PM
In addition to redundant fees, if you rebuild in OB2 you also have to pay $300 for a "planner" who decides what you can and cannot do. Therefore, before you break ground it will cost $500, payable to the OBYC Association. The majority of the lots are 30' X 50'. Why is the additional expense of a "planner" needed? Our rules and regulations prevent "living space over living space" and TRT agrees with the "rules & regs" and our taxes go to TRT not OBYC. There are exceptions to the "rules & regs", especially on Melody Lane and, in some cases, by the bay.However, anyone with a '30 by 50' lot has to pay the "planner" even though the house is only 520 sq. feet. The services are back but the rebuilding/repairing will take a long time. There are not enough honest and fairly priced electricians and contractors in the State of NJ to get everyone "up and running" by the 2013 season.
Mike L January 08, 2013 at 09:16 PM
This question maybe off the wall but what happens to million dollar pension the old sheriff was getting, from seaside, toms river and what ever else he was getting. Looks like we might be saving some monies with his passing. Anybody have an idea????
Jack R. Resling January 08, 2013 at 09:39 PM
Here is the kick. If you stopped making your mortgage payments this month and pulled out all of the stops available in this State, then at the last minute filed for bankrupcy. It would take the bank close to three or four years to get your home. By then , assuming you did not repair your home from the Sandy damage. What would the mortgage company, and the town be left with? It is a real mess for the homeowner and the banks. I have a fairly small mortgage right now, my home in Snug Harbor was substantialy damaged. I called my mortgage company, spoke to a lead guy there, and yes they are definitly worried people are going to walk away or stay and just stop paying. Some sort of resolve would be great.
Chief Wahoo January 08, 2013 at 09:47 PM
STRATEGIC DEFAULTS ARE THE BEST WAY TO FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE THE PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER.....THEY JUST DO NOT REALIZE OR ARE AFRAID
jerseyswamps January 08, 2013 at 11:16 PM
Charlie, that may be right but many people have already made improvements that were not included in the assessment. Or the assessment just wasn't correct or it was outdated in the first place. With all towns, counties and the state hurting for tax revenues I don't believe for a second they will let the reassessment after the repairs go back to the pre Sandy level. Sure we can appeal. But do you really need another headache and expense of time and money? No thanks. I'll let them think I have the same inferior low quality structure I've had all along.
annette p January 09, 2013 at 03:00 AM
Go to www.robinhood.org. They are the ones who the money was given to giving them the authority to distribute how they saw fit. Caution: It will make your hair stand on end. You'll never want to donate monies for any kind of relief again....Better off handing it to a person in need.
Monica Feeney January 09, 2013 at 03:47 AM
Join the club, We are really close to just staying here as long as possible, not paying for anything,fixing anything, paying the mortgage or hiked up flood rates and saving to buy a condo in a few years for cash. I already checked with a attorney they told us indeed we can probably stay in our home for years before the bank gets it. Just about the time we need to save enough cash to buy a condo. We have just about had it with FEMA, Toms River, not knowing what to do, how to rebuild and so on. We have a Cape Cod and can live on the second floor for a few years, let the bank have it in a three years bare walls and all.
Paul Revere January 09, 2013 at 01:21 PM
Isn't it ironic that taxes were one of the main reasons this country was formed in the first place. I guess history is not the great teacher folks think it is. If you don't get out and vote and get involved with the decision making, well then you get what you deserve.
Xavier January 09, 2013 at 05:21 PM
I don't think he was sick. He was just older than dirt.
smrh January 10, 2013 at 12:46 AM
Really??? Didnt the people around here suffer enough!!! We already pay out the hole for the taxes! Nice way to push people further down in the mud!!! And didnt fema help pay for over time, debri removale ect. So why are our taxes going up?
Rick Ricky January 10, 2013 at 01:25 AM
The mayor of Point Beach tried to get a tourism tax on the boardwalk businesses to relieve the residents from all the police that is needed in the summer for the boardwalk and they all went ape sh-t. Needless to say they did not like him. Made it miserable for him or any resident that supported the Mayor. The residents felt the same way you do. Why should the residents pay for all the police, training the police, garbage, OT public works mainly for the boardwalk tourists. He wanted a tax on alcohol like they do in the islands. 5 to 10 cents on a drink. They already charge upwards of 9 to 12 dollars a drink anyway. Do you really think a few cents is going to keep them away if they are already willing to pay those high prices. Like you said these tourist like it at the jersey shore so much let them pay for it just like others do on the island.
none of yobusiness January 10, 2013 at 01:26 AM
With the increase of taxes and hopefully federal money, I cant help but wonder which one of our slimey politicians will be caught with his or her hand in till first?
Rick Ricky January 10, 2013 at 01:28 AM
Where is Chris Christie with all his promises. My taxes have increased since he has been in office. His 2% cap never worked, now the storm and all these towns using excuses to gouge more of the residents with tax increase. Get rid of employee's, end of story. I don't care, do without. We will have to be short on police, cut down garbage to one day. Do what it takes.
Rick Ricky January 10, 2013 at 01:36 AM
Ryan, It is not just Brick, it is the same crap in all the towns. Chief Wahoo...You are so right. All these council members have to chop the bloated salaries, chop the employee's do what it takes, less police, public works, cut garbage down to one day, Start hiring part-time workers for all these small towns or use sub contractors for all the building department and everything else. Share lawyers and everything else with bloated salaries. The residents should demand the party is over. The work will get done. Residents can't afford double digit increase on their taxes. This is bull, they need to stop buying and control spending.
Rick Ricky January 10, 2013 at 01:45 AM
Cut the over bloated school budgets too! They don't need all the employees either. The superintendents just keep on doling out jobs to their friends, girlfriends, wives, their friends, sons, daughters, cousins...it is ridiculous what goes on.
Rick Ricky January 10, 2013 at 01:58 AM
johnjcpa, Really...All the schools are over bloated with those who do nothing but walk around in circles. Way to many administrators that are not needed. Is that a joke. Go to board meeting to voice your concerns. It is a waste of time. They are not interested on what residents have to say. They do what they want no matter what. I find most lie a lot and are arrogant. Many districts are spending like crazy if they have the money. As long as they stay under the 2% they don't need the residents. There is no vote.

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