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How Middlesex County may be defying N.J. state government

Friday, June 3, 2016   (0 Comments)
Share | 06/03/16

Middlesex County is the lone holdout among three New Jersey counties the state considers bad actors for failing to order long-overdue revaluations in municipalities under their control. Union County last week voted to order Westfield and Winfield to undergo revaluations and reset property values, NJ Advance Media has learned. And in the last two months, Hudson County has sent similar decrees to East Newark and Harrison. That leaves Middlesex County, home to nine boroughs and townships that haven't reassessed in at least 25 years, as the only county where the state Division of Taxation's crackdown on local governments has gone unheeded. "The Union and Hudson County boards of taxation are making some progress with respect to delinquent revaluations, however, the Middlesex County Board of Taxation has not," Treasury Department spokesman Joe Perone said. "Middlesex has the only county in the entire state that has not ordered a town to conduct an involuntary revaluation."

The state took aim at these three counties in November, announcing it was opening investigations into municipalities within each that had allowed their property valuations to fall out of compliance with state rules. Thirty-two New Jersey municipalities had not held reassessments or revaluations in at least 25 years when the state launched this effort last winter. All but two of those are in Middlesex, Union and Hudson counties. Pemberton Township in Burlington County and Port Republic in Atlantic County were also on the list but both have revaluations underway.  In April, the division ordered the three targeted municipalities — Jersey City in Hudson County, Elizabeth in Union County, and Dunellen in Middlesex County — to set revaluations in motion. In announcing those orders, Acting Director of the Division of Taxation John Ficara blasted the county tax boards, saying their "failed supervision" was partly to blame. 

The state then launched a second round of investigations of five more: South River in Middlesex County, Harrison and East Newark in Hudson County, and Westfield and Winfield in Union County. On May 26, the Union County Board of Taxation voted to order Winfield to complete a revaluation for 2018 and Westfield for 2019, Administrator Christopher Duryee confirmed this week, adding that the board is "looking at" whether it will take similar action against other towns in its jurisdiction. Among the eight municipalities targeted by the state, only South River has escaped a mandated revaluation so far. It also remains the state's only open investigation. 



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