PLAINSBORO: Pending appeals, township-wide reassessment process nearly complete

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By Lea Kahn, Staff Writer
PLAINSBORO — The township-wide reassessment of residential, commercial and industrial properties — the first one in 10 years — is all but wrapped up, pending any appeals to the Middlesex County Board of Taxation.
Letters were sent to all property owners within the past couple of weeks, and any property owner who had a question about the new assessment was able to meet with a representative from Professional Property Appraisers Inc., said township Tax Assessor Thomas Mancuso.
There is a May 1 deadline to file an appeal for those property owners who still have questions and who may want to challenge the new assessed value of their property. The appeal must be filed with the Middlesex County Board of Taxation.
The letters stated the new assessed value for the property, which takes effect this year. They also stated the 2015 assessed value and the 2015 property tax. The letters outlined what the tax bill would have been for 2015, if the new assessed value had been in place.
Mr. Mancuso said the letter does not state what the 2016 property tax bill will be, because none of the 2016 budgets — municipal and county — have been adopted. Township Committee will adopt the 2016 municipal budget later this year.
Under the recently completed assessment, the new average assessed value of a residential property is $451,978 — an increase of nearly $65,000 over the old average assessed value of $386,984. The actual tax impact won’t be known until the 2016 municipal budget is adopted.
State law requires all properties to be assessed at 100 percent of their fair market value, which is the price that a willing buyer would pay to a willing seller.
Since the last township-wide property revaluation of every property occurred about 10 years ago, property values have fluctuated and the assessment may not reflect the current fair market value.
The purpose of a reassessment is to spread the tax burden equitably among all property owners. The owners of two properties that have essentially the same fair market value should pay essentially the same amount in property taxes.
Inequitable assessments are the result of changes in the neighborhoods, fluctuations in the economy and changes in zoning that enhance or adversely affect property values. Owners who appealed their assessments can cause inequality in a neighborhood, because some appeal and others do not.
While a reassessment will affect each property’s assessment for property tax purposes, it does not men taxes will increase or decrease on every property. Some are over-assessed and others are under-assessed, which means some owners pay more than their fair share and others do not.
The new assessments will not result in a property tax windfall, because the township can only raise the amount of money it needs to operate.
Property owners should not assume that their post-assessment property tax bill will be based on the 2015 tax rate, which includes school and county taxes, because the tax rate will be adjusted downward to reflect the new values.

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