Sandy Leaves Behind 'Monstrous' Financial Burden
Following storm, some residents apply for tax reductions, as costs related to the storm go up.
Homeowners who have reduced property values due to damage from Sandy will likely apply for tax relief this year, meaning that the brunt of the existing taxes - and others that may arise from the costs involved in cleaning up after the storm - may shift to others living in that town, according to several people interviewed by Patch yesterday.
Local taxes are based upon the property's value on Oct. 1 of the preceding year, but a property that suffers material depreciation after Oct. 1 but before Jan. 1, must be revalued by the town's assessor, as long as they are notified by the homeowner.
Anthony DellaPelle, an attorney with McKirdy & Riskin PA in Morristown, noted however, that property owners must notify their town's assesor quickly. He provided Patch with a letter (attached) that homeowners can use to notify the local assessor.
"For communities like Toms River and Brick, if the valuable properties on
the ocean are no longer valuable, that means the tax assessments will be reduced to reflect what they are worth now, and that means people inland are going to pay a greater proportion," DellaPelle said.
Barnegat and Waretown Township Administrator David Breeden said in remarks at the town's regularly-scheduled meeting last night that residents with homes that have been substantially damaged from the storm "can petition their local assessor and the assessor has to adjust their value ... This will have an adverse effect on the town, from a local, and county perspective."
Committee members last night authorized $3.5 million in emergency funds to cover various expenses, from debris collection to overtime pay for emergency responders.
Stafford officials noted a similar situation in the township, adding that the tax burden will likely shift to the homeowners that live further inland.
Mayor John Spodofora told Patch: "Part of being in a community is that we all share the good and the bad," Spodofora said. "It's no different than the schools. We've lost a couple dozen houses in Beach Haven West."
Breeden noted that there were 106 homes in Barnegat and 94 homes in Waretown that were "red tagged" following Sandy, which means work had to be done before the home could be deemed habitable.
Breeden said he expects at least 75% and up to 90% of funds allocated for the disaster will be reimbursable, but he said, until such time, those funds need to be set in place. To that end, both the Stafford Council and Barnegat Township Committees yesterday authorized a shared services agreement with Ocean County for debris pickup.
Despite the fact that Stafford Township approved resolutions that appropriated some $21 million for trash pickup at their most recent meeting, under the terms of this shared service agreement, that number now drops to $6 million, and at the next meeting, township officials will amend that initial resolution accordingly, according to township officials.
"We don't yet have a full picture, but your taxes will probably have to go up," Spodofora said in response to a resident's question. "We can't carry this whole burden, it is monstrous … we are playing around with the budget to minimize the impact, but it would be wrong of me to tell you that we're not going to raise taxes."