Berkeley Wants New Timeline On Home Assessments

Photo by Patricia A. Miller

BERKELEY – Township officials want the state to reduce the timeline for municipal tax assessors to determine how much a home’s value has increased after it has been renovated.

Council members unanimously approved a resolution asking for the change in state statutes at the Nov. 19 council meeting.

The resolution stemmed from the Oct. 22 council meeting, when senior citizens from the township’s retirement communities packed the council room to protest additional tax assessments some had received after improvements were made to their homes.

Councilman L. Thomas Grosse Jr. asked council members to adopt a resolution that would revise the time period tax assessors have to determine a home’s value after improvements have been made. He suggested a six-month time period rather than the current three years.

Additional assessments are new structures, or additions, or alterations of an old structure, completed after Jan. 1 and before Oct. 1, Township Tax Assessor Eric L. Zanetti had said in an email to The Berkeley Times.

Few people attended the Nov. 19 council meeting, a marked contrast to the crowded Oct. 22 meeting. Township officials also held two meetings earlier this month, one in Holiday City South and one in Holiday Heights, to discuss the additional assessment issues.

Zanetti has set up payment plans for any residents who needs them to pay their additional assessments, Township Administrator John Camera said.

Council members also approved five payment plans for added assessments for five properties at the Nov. 19 meeting.

About 767 homes out of approximately 26,500 properties in the township were affected by added assessments this year. About 350 of these are in the senior communities, Zanetti has said.

The added assessments apply to all properties where improvements were made, whether the improvements were made by a former owner or the current owner, he said.

“If the value, when completed, is greater than the assessed value placed on the structure on Oct. 1 of the pretax years, an added assessment based on the difference must be made,” Zanetti had said. “The added assessment is pro-rated on the number of full months remaining in the tax year. This way, the property which becomes assessable after Oct. 1 does not avoid its fair share of the tax burden for the rest of the year.”

Appeals are still an option for homeowners who are unhappy with their added assessments. The Township Council approved a plan at the Oct. 22 meeting to allow residents to pay their additional taxes via a payment plan.

The council also unanimously passed a resolution against the manufacture, distribution and sales of video games that involve school shootings, at Grosse’s request. Grosse is a detective in the Toms River Police Department and a former member of the Berkeley Board of Education.

“They are grossly inappropriate,” he said of the video games. “There’s got to be a million ways to make money and that’s not one of them.”

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Patricia A. Miller began her career in 1984 as a reporter at the Asbury Park Press. She covered a variety of towns in Ocean County and wrote an award-winning column, "Ocean Diary," each week. She later spent seven years at Greater Media Newspapers and served as managing editor of the Edison/Metuchen Sentinel, the Woodbridge Sentinel and the Brick Township Bulletin during that time. Pat spent the last 8 years as a local Patch editor. Pat has won a number of awards during her time as a journalist, including the New Jersey Press Association, the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists and the North Jersey Press Club.