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South Brunswick Budget, Revaluation Talks Begin

Township Council to hold formal discussions on 2013 municipal budget and implications of tax revaluation Tuesday evening.

As South Brunswick is still wrestling with an influx of new  formal discussions will begin Tuesday evening on the 2013 budget and the impact of a possible revaluation program.

Last year, 391 tax appeals were filed in the township, up from about 180 appeals in 2011, when about 100 companies successfully sued the township for a tax reduction. That reduction resulted in the loss of over $100 million in ratables, $98.5 million of which came from commercial and industrial tax appeals. 

Over the last seven years, the township's ratable base has decreased by over $180 million, in no small part due to the increase in tax appeals. 

"The biggest concern we have is the fact that these suits are rising from people appealing their taxes," said Mayor Frank Gambatese last month. 

With the continued flood of tax appeals showing no sign of slowing down, the council will discuss Tuesday evening whether the township should pursue a property revaluation program, which appraises all real property according to its full and fair value.

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

Last year, the council attempted to revamp the tax appeal process by lowering the threshold for settlements on appeals. Previously, any settlement that was greater than $50,000 had to be brought by the South Brunswick Tax Assessor to the Township Council for approval. At a meeting last April, the council lowered the settlement limit from $50,000 to $25,000.

"(Revaluation) would be a last ditch effort that we may have to do to stabilize the suits that are coming in," Gambatese said. "Once we get a firm handle on how many suits there are this year, then we'll look at where we are. If we have an increase in true value then that's a good thing, but if it drops below 44 percent again then we may seriously need to look at different options."

At Tuesday's meeting, the council will also begin public discussions on the budget for the upcoming year. The Township Council approved a budget last year that held the tax rate at 72 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. 

South Brunswick's average total tax bill was $8,520.57 last year, which remained above the state average of $7,870.28, but fell in line with the statewide average increase of 1.7 percent, according to Star-Ledger analysis. 

well below the state average of $2,324.66.

"Every town is faced with the same issues," Gambatese said. "But we believe we have tremendous potential for businesses coming in and helping to offset the loss of ratables. We had a great year last year, so we hope that continues. We have a lot of companies coming in and submitting applications to expand or relocate here, so hopefully that helps us out."

The Township Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m. in the township Municipal Building, located at 540 Ridge Road in Monmouth Junction.

08540 Resident February 05, 2013 at 02:31 PM
Revaluation is needed to correct inequities in the tax base that already are visible with successful appeal property owners paying much less compared to others who either didn't apply or got rejected.
raymond Weis February 05, 2013 at 03:53 PM
Does this mean that a homeowner who did not appeal there taxes will end up with an increase to pay for the people who did appeal? Lets remember in the end if we can't afford to stay in N.J. we'll just have to leave and go somewhere less expensive as so many others have done.
08540 Resident February 05, 2013 at 07:02 PM
That is correct. Those who didn't appeal are burdened more while those who appealed with success don't have to worry for two more years (Freeze Act).
Tugwalla February 06, 2013 at 10:47 PM
Its amazing that Mayor Gambatese wants to rearrange the chairs on the Titanic rather than deal with the root causes of the towns finances. In my opinion it has more to do with potential mismanagement and lack of professional leadership from the towns elected officials and so called town managers.
Tugwalla February 06, 2013 at 11:04 PM
Ray what this means is that either way, the Mayor and town council don't care who they tax, as long as they can keep the SB Tax and Spend Machine humming!

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