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Inaccurate reval info on Jersey City budget doc leads to N.J. review

Tuesday, May 3, 2016   (0 Comments)
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NJ.com 05/03/16

An incorrect answer regarding the stalled property revaluation on a budget questionnaire submitted to state officials last year could spell trouble for Jersey City. State officials confirmed this week they are reviewing the questionnaire, used by the state to determine how much state aid a municipality gets, because the city indicated on it that it was conducting a reval. Mayor Steve Fulop halted the reval in 2013. If the city had answered accurately that it was not performing a citywide property reassessment, that may have put some of its $68.4 million in state aid in jeopardy, according to Tammori Petty, spokeswoman for the state Department of Community Affairs.

The "best practices inventory," as it is called, is a 17-page questionnaire that includes 50 questions asking how city officials run the government. On the top of the third page is this question: "If the ratio of assessed values to market values in your municipality is presently less than 65%, is your municipality in the process of conducting a reassessment or revaluation?" The city, where the assessed-to-market value ratio is just 24.6 percent, answered, "Yes," adding in a comments field that the city was at the time in litigation over the aborted reval. Realty Appraisal Co., hired in 2011 to oversee the process, sued for breach of contract after Fulop stopped the reval after his election as mayor in 2013.

After an inquiry by The Jersey Journal, Petty said the department is taking a "detailed look" at the city's submission " to see whether any other questions were answered incorrectly." Regarding the city's response on the reval question, Petty said, "Their answer, if scored incorrectly, could have affected the city's aid payment." Fulop has argued that he couldn't move ahead with the reval until the Realty Appraisal case was resolved. Two weeks ago, the judge overseeing the case ruled in Realty Appraisal's favor. The following day, Fulop announced he would appeal that decision and move ahead with the revaluation, ordered by state tax officials on April 4.

 


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