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Brick's Post-Sandy Tax Assessments in Flux

Could mean temporary budgetary squeeze

State officials are continuing to debate, internally, how property tax reassessments may work in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

But residents whose homes are unliveable or, in some cases, destroyed, continue to pepper officials in Brick and beyond about the ramifications of paying tax bills on properties whose improvement values may now be lower.

In Brick, where both mainland and barrier island sections were hit hard by the massive storm, temporary revaluations could spell budgetary issues, at least on a temporary basis.

Business Administrator Scott Pezarras said Monday that he has participated in conference calls and meetings with county tax administrators and the state's Division of Taxation.

Pezarras expects state officials to outline how municipal governments should proceed in handling requests for reassessments in the wake of the storm.

"I'm hopeful that by the end of this week, we will have clearer direction," said Pezarras, explaining that officials are in talks with the Christie administration.

Some predicted the state's answer could come by way of a legislative solution of an executive order issued by the governor.

If a large enough group of property owners request reassessments, it could affect the township budget or residents' overall tax bills, though likely for only a short period of time – perhaps as short as one quarter – as the majority of homes will be repaired before the end of the year.

Reassessments will only take into account the improvements on a lot, Pezarras said. The assessed value of the land itself will not change.

As for long term implications, Pezarras said that in areas of the country previously affected by hurricanes, property values near the water actually went up over time, since homes were repaired and rebuilt using modern materials under updated zoning laws that require more storm-resistant construction techniques.

Oceanfront real estate, heavily damaged in Brick during Sandy, was an area where prices rose in South Florida, for example.

In Brick, the barrier island portion of the town represents about 12 percent of the township's overall ratable base.

Joseph Woolston Brick November 27, 2012 at 03:33 PM
I hadn't seen this picture before and when I did it took my breath away. Even though the next thought in my mind may or may have not saved these homes, looking at this picture makes me wonder. How many people know how to shut down their electric and turn off the gas in their homes? It's something they don't teach you in school and maybe should be taught. Although even if the gas and electric had been turned off in the houses, when the houses were pulled off their foundations and the gas pipes broke away from the shutoff valves and the primary electric on the poles stayed on and sparked which probably caused the fires, Even though the home owner turned off both utilities with the scenario above, it wouldn't have saved a thing, I still think it's a good idea to turn off the electric and gas when evacuating a home, doing so may increase the survival of the home somewhat more than leaving them on. How many of you know how to shut down the main electric and gas in your home?
Kal November 27, 2012 at 03:36 PM
The overall value on home and land has changed at a lower rate! I assume the change is @ -30% or so....Who wants a home on the ocean now, without really knowing if the weather patterns are going to continue in this direction?
Mike November 27, 2012 at 05:35 PM
A gas main ruptured. Notice the fire burning out of a hole in the sand.
David November 27, 2012 at 05:36 PM
I am glad finally to see these type of questions, now that the Hurricane is gone and people (tax payers) who were wiped out are trying to get on their feet. The assessed value of the land might remain the same, except for those lots destroyed completely or left unable to build again (not big enough to code today!). However, these people were paying the upper level of taxes in Brick, such as $10K a year to live near the water in Nejecho Beach for example. Now, if I was a land owner that had no house, try to collect $10K from me now. For easy numbers, Brick loses 1/5 of its tax base and all those are the upper level. Who is going to make up that money? I've been asking myself that and neighbors. Of course, the other 4/5s. Be aware that the Governor already mentioned that 2% cap could be waived. No WAY! My garbage collection runs from the leaky trucks and has left rotten food on the street more than once. This has nothing to do with being compassionate. Remember Love Canal? Once an area is damaged, land values fall and thus tax revenue falls too!
LP November 27, 2012 at 07:20 PM
FYI... Waterfront is still and will always be a scarcity and there will always be a demand for it! If you were to go for a mortgage you want the appraiser to value property higher vacant lot or with a dwelling. When you go to sell you want the highest return to value. When your real estate tax bill is struck and comes due you want to appeal the taxes because the assessor valued the land/dwelling too high. The assessor is wrong and he/she should be linched! Be practical here and think; do you really believe that your values dimished so drasticly from one storm or are you using this storm as an opportunity to drive your real estate taxes down so you won't have to pay as much real estate tax. In other words, aren't you driving your own real estate values down? Just food for thought. It is not an argument. It is using your head. Plus once the taxes are dropped, should you expect the township to sweep the streets, plow the streets and not pay the officals if they are doing their jobs? Think about it, if you work at a job 5 days a week 40 hours, do you want to get paid? Most of the officals jobs are 24/7. Many pick and poke at the officals, but know one wants to think about the job requirements and what they are up agaisnt. Sometimes I wonder how many acutally go out and vote that are complaining. We need to work together and bring the community together. lp
Chief Wahoo November 27, 2012 at 07:28 PM
house rich , cash poor, is no way to live
Joseph Woolston Brick November 27, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Just saw an article that I wanted to post about. Needed a way to segue it into this thread. Basically I guess the way to do it, is to mention that between the destruction from Hurricane Sandy in Brick and accident increases at red light camera intersections, guess Brick is becoming an insurance company's nightmare. http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/11/red-light_cameras_lead_to_more.html
Missing Brick November 27, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Who the hell can fix their home in one quarter! If I can fix mine in a year it will be a miracle and if we get only a one quarter tax re-assesment I'm 100% sure I will sue Brick Township. That is a disgraceful suggestion. Time for them to stop pretending and actually do something fair for the homeowners effected by this storm. The idea that it will even a battle is adding insult to injury. My property value may never be the same after this, why should I be asked to pay taxes on some sort of fictional value that may have been optimistic even at the height of the market? They sure know how to re-assess upwards...time to go the other way folks. If my home and insurance premium increases are "my" problems...then their budgets problems are THERES! Don't ask me to pay that too.
Missing Brick November 27, 2012 at 10:09 PM
>should you expect the township to sweep the streets Our community has not been swept since the storm for 100% sure. There is so many nails and broken glass that my rental car got a flat tire. I think the town needs to go to the state and the fed's and make up their budget there. I, for one, do not believe I should pay the same taxes on an unlivable home as I did on a totally 100% home...it is common sense and PS in the meantime I'm paying rent on an apartment that I'm not even sure the insurance co. will end up coving any part of. That's my proof that my home is not as "valuable" as it was three weeks ago before the storm!
Lauren November 28, 2012 at 12:18 AM
To Joseph...I had a summer home in Camp Osborn. Most of the people just had summer homes there and we all turn off our gas and electric for the winter. A handful of families lived there permanently and I feel horrible for them. This was awful for our entire community. My family has been there since 1957....we all have had such wonderful times there. Mike, know one knows for sure how the fire started...there are a lot of stories out there...no one knows. Could have been the gas or the transformers. It is awful and I am devastated.
Can't handle the truth November 28, 2012 at 02:26 AM
i cant believe their thinking about Tax assessments these people are homeless. Lord.
Can't handle the truth November 28, 2012 at 02:28 AM
I cant believe their thinking about assessments, these people are homeless for God's sake
LP November 28, 2012 at 02:44 AM
Note the article said, "I'm hopeful that by the end of this week, we will have clearer direction," said Pezarras, explaining that officials are in talks with the Christie administration. Some predicted the state's answer could come by way of a legislative solution of an executive order issued by the governor. "Reassessments will only take into account the improvements on a lot, Pezarras said. The assessed value of the land itself will not change." No one wrote anything in stone as of yet. Though reassessments will be on the actual improvements. So let the assessors in to see the damage or the improvement. If values on the land show a decline then there is your answer. So who is going to be the first one to sell and for the lessor amount? I believe that when you sit with the assessor he or she will compare apples to apples. If they don't then you know you have room to appeal that issue. As for now it sounds like they are willing to work with you. They are looking for the solution. There has to be officals that were affected by "SANDY" and are just as bitter as the next person.
LP November 28, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Oh and by the way... As for FEMA they have done a wonderful job within the community and have helped place many that were affected as well as give the displaced monies for rent, clothing, food etc. The Red Cross did a wonderful job as well. The military and the police, state, local and out of state law enforcement have stepped out to the plate in helping out the many in need and securing within all the townships. It sad to see that there are still many out there who do not know the true meaning of being hummble. Sandy's devastation was wide spread and the numbers affected are beyond one's imagination. On another note do you think it is fair to say that if one chooses to live on or near the waterfront, that it would be prudent and in your best interest to have homeowners and flood insurance, with a rider for wind/hail and personal contents coverage? What were you all thinking that didn't have coverage? That it was never going to flood? Come on now, you have to take some accountablity for your actions. Many can say that we kind of screwed up a little bit. Right? I know we are all going to look at our policies a little bit more closer and there are going to be others that are going to just keep going they way they have. Let say thank God for FEMA for picking up the slack for the one's that didn't care enough to care and be a penny wise and a dollar foolish.
Missing Brick November 28, 2012 at 02:55 AM
How about an emergency measure to lower taxes on all affected property. If one doesn't have floors, walls and/or heat...well, how much time do they have to "sit down" with the assessors before all is restored. Seems like true empathy would be to send out a notice immediately that says, "you were on the waterfront and we feel your pain, so we are going to suspend your taxes this quarter while we resolve the longer term assessment ...which will be happening at your convenience." Talk and intentions are cheap, Brick waterfront tax rates are not. Sorry if it sounds bitter, but all the good wishes in the world are not helping me restore my home. They are not paying my additional rent while I make my home habitable again. Step up Brick Township! Show me my feelings are misplaced.
Chief Wahoo November 28, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh......
LP November 28, 2012 at 03:31 AM
Hi Missing Brick, First of all living on the water, I was affected as well with no heat,, walls, floors etc. Misplaced...Yes me too! First of all how is the assessors going to know if you were one of the unaccountable that were affected? You need to get yourself down there and be responsible. Let them know that your dealing with "Material Depreciation". Be nice about it cause they don't know. By the way if you wait for it all to be restored would you think then you will have a real opportunity to get the reduction on your taxes? You still own the property with or without a dwelling on it. True empathy, does not require a notice to be sent out to suspend your taxes. However, it has been addressed through every media source that they are aware of the crises at hand and they have been working on a best alternative for all. Plus not everyone that lives on the water was affected, So would it be fair to say that everyone on the water should not have to pay their taxes. If you read your homeowners insurance policy there should be an area that reads loss of use, all perils ect. which should cover the difference of out of pocket expense and what FEMA has given, without double dipping. It is difficult reading policies & though not being familar with Homeowners Insurance there is a lesson to be learned here by all. Sounds like they are using emergency measures and putting into account the many affected properties, you need to stand up and be accounted for! Be well. :0)
Daniel Nee (Editor) November 28, 2012 at 05:04 AM
History shows the land will actually become more valuable.
Daniel Nee (Editor) November 28, 2012 at 05:05 AM
We're going to have a Brick-specific article later this week on this study.
KC November 28, 2012 at 07:01 AM
I think people will be rethinking their love to be a waterfront resident if these storms become an annual event. Not sure they will be running to the shorefront properties. I might change my mind come July, but it is at best a risky way to live.
KC November 28, 2012 at 07:08 AM
My heart goes out to you. We need to help people and I am not sure how we should proceed. I would love to subsidize people who are hurting with a small increase of my taxes for a few months, if the economy wasn't already so damn soured and I had steady employment. As things are this is going to be very difficult. I wish you luck in repairing and rebuilding. My greatest fear is if we are to be in for more of this.
KC November 28, 2012 at 07:10 AM
As always Joe, you make a very valid point. I have to do a review lesson. Should include water too shouldn't it? Shut down electric, gas and water.
KC November 28, 2012 at 07:11 AM
Thats what I said too.
Missing Brick November 28, 2012 at 07:17 AM
How would they know? Well, they could set up a help line and send assessors into the field just like FEMA did. I got a knock on my door by FEMA even though it turned out I'm outside the income range to receive their aid. That was 3 days after the flood...now we are closing in on a month. My own town, Brick, otoh, is going to make me drive 1.5 hours to seek them out from my new temporary home without any certainty at all that anything will come of it. Real heroes! This is regardless of the fact that they seemed to be able to re-assess during Christmas week a few years ago...but that was in the upward direction. Lots of manpower that year. Hmmm...I guess it is MY responsibility to seek them out now since they seem to lose our addresses when there isn't more money in it for them to collect. Sure we all need to be more familiar with our insurance policies, but on the other hand, it is very VERY unlikely that they would cover all the expense we will incur over the next months (our vehicles are sure going to cost us I'm finding) and I'd hope the town would be most empathetic ...and quick to react to show they are trying to do at least something for us. I will with hold final judgement to see what they do, but I will not be too surprised if it is a day late and a dollar short by the reaction so far.
Justabeachhouse November 28, 2012 at 12:19 PM
Not sure why the article states that most homes will be repaired by the end of the year. In fact, most homes do not have utility services and both qualified contractors and building materials will be in short supply. Also, Brick has issued information that "substantially damaged" homes must be brought to code rather than repaired to previous condition. And, lastly, new elevation requirements are not expected to be issued until the first quarter. All of which leads to the expectation that tax revenue will be an issue for several quarters to come.
Betty Ann November 28, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Good suggestion, Joe. And, yes Mike is correct, it was a gas main rupture, well before the storm hit land. In other States such as FLA, when a storm is coming, the utility companies automatically shut down in the areas that might be affected. It's my understanding that the shutoff for this area was actuall in Wall twp? hmmmm. NJNG, how come you didn't shut off the gas to the island?
Missing Brick November 28, 2012 at 07:24 PM
^^^yes, my point exactly, just explained much more eloquently^^^ Recovery will not be measured in week or even months. In the case of my neighborhood, I'd say a couple of years and looking at photos of LBI, I'd bet five years. Also, anyone who has been to New Orleans both pre-and-post Katrina can see that some places may be changed permanently. Yes, there are some places that should not re-build most likely...but others where matters of finance and short supply of skilled labor will really stretch things out. One quarter is a callous approximation on the repairs anyone on the water is about to undergo with few exceptions. I would bet in the town of Brick, there is barely a single home on the waterfront that didn't sustain any damage. My home never flooded before in 35 years...so asking for a quick action by taxes and a bit more participation in recovery by JCP&L and/or FEMA is not out of line. Our taxes are some of the highest in the whole country by all accounts, now is the time for them to ACT and not just consider as homeowners are struggling with 10,000 other details. I have to rent a car each time I want to get back to my home right now...is it truly so much to ask that they address us with some immediate solutions without each owner going through a timely appeal process with uncertain outcome as the best scenario. (and status quo soon replaced by even higher property taxes as a worst out come.)
Mrgrumpass November 29, 2012 at 02:47 PM
There is a bit of an advantage to this problem, it will show the town administration and the people who much less the town can do with in many areas!
Lauren December 01, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Normandy beach residents need to come together how do they expect us to pay taxes on homes we cant live in its going to take a lot of time to repair how can they expect us to say when are homes will be done getting contractors is almost im possible are homes are completely devestated we need to revolt
LP December 04, 2012 at 06:25 AM
Hang in there let them mediate the issue at hand. This devastation is not something that the township or any of the officials ever had to deal with. Surely there were township officals that were just as affected as the rest. Let them work out a soultion before the linching begins. In some areas land value will be affected and they will have to make adjustments to the assessments. These are basicly issues with CAFRA and the DEP. They have been out taking ariels the day after the storm looking for the means-high water line and the tidal lines. That is going to be where your argument at hand will be. So you sell that portion to the DEP. But keep in mind that once you sell it will no longer be yours. But you will save on your tax assessment. This is just food for thought. Not saying that is the way to go, but it has been done.

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