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Little Silver Waterfront Property Owners Dispute Revaluation [VIDEO]

More than 75 residents turned out for Monday's council meeting to voice their concerns over financial ramifications of the borough's revaluation.

The timing of Little Silver's revaluation, couldn't have been worse.

Not only were the town-wide reappraisals coming on the tail end of a housing slump and a decade after the last revaluation, but the benchmark date used to evaluate properties was set at Oct. 1, just a month before Hurricane Sandy came and changed everything.

"There's no precedence for this," Mayor Robert C. Neff, Jr. told the approximately 75 residents gathered to show their opposition to property appraisals received last month.

The borough hired Realty Appraisal Company to perform a revaluation of all property in the borough after Little Silver was ordered by the Monmouth County Board of Taxation to establish current market value as a basis for their tax assessments.

Under a borough-wide revaluation, homes and businesses are inspected for their comparable assessed worth in an effort to more fairly distribute the tax burden. Local government and school tax levies are comprised of tax points, which are literally every cent a resident pays in property taxes per $100 in assessed value.

While some residents may see their assessments and consequently their tax bills increase under a borough-wide revaluation, the process is intended to correct inequities in the tax base that may develop over time.

Owners of the 2,600 residential properties in the borough received those appraisals at the end of December and many of the 80-odd waterfront property owners, many of whom suffered flood damage from Hurricane Sandy, found that their appraisals had risen significantly.

Neff told the crowd gathered for the Jan. 28 council meeting that borough officials were unable to stop the borough-wide revaluation of all properties.

"It's not in the borough's power to put it on hold," he said. "This is a train that left the station more than a year ago."

A revaluation is a process of comparables in which Little Silver properties are evaluated according to similar properties in their neighborhood. (Learn more about revaluations here.)

Many residents who spoke during the almost three-hour meeting echoed a Point Road resident who argued that there weren't enough comparable sales to use for establishing market values. He said the land of his half-acre waterfront property was appraised for $818,000 during the last revaluation in 2003 and is now valued at $1.45 million and claims it was based on one comparable sale made in the neighborhood in 2011. "You can't base all 80 properties on one sale," he said. 

Borough Attorney John O. Bennett III said that residents were concerned that it is too soon to know whether their home market values have been decreased following Sandy. "What is the retail product going to be?" he asked.

Seven Bridges Road resident John Chimento, who's lived in Little Silver almost 40 years, suggested that the borough consider litigation to put off the perceived financial impact of the revaluation "until the dust settles."

"The only person who can overrule a bureaucrat is a judge," he said. "At the end of the day you have an arbiter that takes a much more fair appraisal of the situation."

While that option remains "on the table" but a "last option," Neff said of litigation, "It's hard to say whether it's the right road to go down."

The mayor and council agreed unanimously with Councilman Rick Scott's suggestion to direct the borough attorney to research freezing flood zone properties at their pre-revaluation values and proceed with the rest of the appraisals. Officials agreed to discuss those findings at their Feb. 4 meeting.

When asked by a resident what more they could be doing to reverse the revaluation, Neff told the crowd, "Your presence here tonight is the best thing you could have done.

"You've made your reaction known," the mayor said.

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Dentss Dunnagun February 03, 2013 at 07:55 PM
Any reductions in appraisals must be approved by the county ,just like any appeals must go thought the county .With that thought nobody wants to see anybody pay more they they should ,if someone loses 50% of the value of their home even seeing any reduction on their taxes is of little help for someone who could have sold that property for 1.5 million but now that same property only sells for 500K .seeing your taxes reduced from 22k to 15K is irrelevant when you just lost 1 million of value ...Hopefully the next person to build will raise the house so that can't happen again .Right now ,banks will not lend one penny on waterfront unless that home surpasses the hight requirement and then the buyer must come in with 40 to 50%.As for insurance you must carry the max ....so if anyone thinks this waterfront real estate will bounce back ,your wrong .And I'm not even discussing about the recession or economic times .Waterfront bubbles have burst and it will be many years before you see prices even close to last years .Towns that relied on the high taxes of waterfront will have to cut or raise taxes substantially for everybody ,who knows we may all be paying taxes like waterfront properties were .
Fred M February 04, 2013 at 12:58 PM
Council needs to know your feelings.When nobody goes to council meetings , council will believe they are doing everything right and have residents blessings. I remember a few years ago a budget of , I think around 10 million dollars was past without one resident present at the meeting..Complaints here don't mean anything..Go and be heard.
dianne bollerman February 05, 2013 at 08:04 PM
I would like to point out at the meeting which I was at there were many homeowners there that DID NOT LIVE ON THE WATER including myself. The article makes it sound like people who are upset are only homeowners on the water or who had damage to to Sandy but that was not true at the meeting. There were many of us who just feel our property taxes are down right out of control. We need to reduce our Budget in this town.
dianne bollerman February 05, 2013 at 08:04 PM
I would like to point out at the meeting which I was at there were many homeowners there that DID NOT LIVE ON THE WATER including myself. The article makes it sound like people who are upset are only homeowners on the water or who had damage to to Sandy but that was not true at the meeting. There were many of us who just feel our property taxes are down right out of control. We need to reduce our Budget in this town.
Fred M February 10, 2013 at 01:36 PM
How will taxes be reduced? I don't see Boro Employees, Teachers Etc salaries going down..I don't see towns consolidating..When you hear the word consolidating, don't believe it for min..This just relaxes the public from being aggressive toward th council..That word came up more then Five years ago.

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