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Appeals Cost the Township Millions in Property Assessments Last Year

Wayne lost more than $27 million in tax assessments due to people filing appeals with the Passaic County Board of Taxation.

The township lost millions of dollars in property assessments last year due to taxpayers filing appeals with the Passaic County Board of Taxation.

The township lost $27.6 million in assessed value last year. Residents and business owners appealed the amount their properties were assessed for. The town council reviews tax appeals on a regular basis.

The total assessed value of the township is nearly $5.2 billion. 

More than 1,100 tax appeals were filed in 2012. Dorothy Kreitz, the township’s chief tax assessor, said that only 39 appeals were filed a few years ago.

Owners of properties that are assessed at less than $750,000 file an appeal with the Board of Taxation. Those assessed at more than $750,000 file an appeal with the state.

The owner of a property near Willowbrook Mall recently because an appeal was filed. Much of the building is vacant.

Town officials said that while appeals can bring relief to some taxpayers, they could be a burden to the majority of them.

“That money has to be made up somehow. How many residents are you going to need to make that $600,000 up? If ratables are lost, the remaining taxpayers will be left to pick up the loss,” said Councilman At Large Joseph Schweighardt. “It’s either that or services are reduced. That’s one thing that the administration and the council don’t want to see done.”

The average home owner's taxes have increased recently. The school portion . The average municipal portion increased $99 last year. 

The number of vacant business lots has contributed to the shrinking ratable base in town.

Officials have examined ways to develop certain areas of town, including the Wayne Hills Mall and where Cost Cutters is on Hamburg Turnpike.

The number of residential lots has been reduced as well. The township has brought out homes in flood zones and is in the process of buying dozens more. The homes are knocked down after they are purchased.

Officials are hopeful that the redevelopment of the Wayne Town Center property near Willowbrook Mall will help alleviate some of the tax burden residents must shoulder. A developer applied to construct a new mall at the location but abandoned the plan last October.

Clarification: an earlier version of this article stated that the township lost millions in tax ratables from appeals being filed. The township lost millions in assessed value, not ratables.

— Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Daniel Hubbard at Daniel.Hubbard@patch.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Victor Alfieri February 15, 2013 at 12:51 PM
Wayne residents have every right to apply for tax appeals. I have an idea for the council. If you want ratables, how about you stop harassing business owners and driving them out of Wayne. Another idea, how about you stop harassing hard working residents over laws that don’t exist. This current council spent 5 minutes debating a 75 million dollar town budget and 6 months debating chickens hens, only to end up losing in court and ultimately wasting thousands and thousands of tax dollars. How about picking up the law and reading it? Mr. Schweighardt, you were the council president when this town harassed Mr. Burke at the Auto Spa ending in a payoff of $220,000 tax dollars and this number does not include all the hours our town attorneys spent over 5 years. And let’s not forget the $50,000 paid out to Mr. Burke with tax dollars over a sheet of paper. How about you start following the law and stop getting this town sued over and over and over again? Mr. Schweighardt tax appeals are not the problem, YOU ARE!
john colligan February 15, 2013 at 02:14 PM
First and foremost the property taxes in this town are the highest in the county. You talk about losing rateables yet the Wayne Hills Mall, the Pancake house etc. have been empty for the last 20 years. Many other companies have left Wayne. You state taxes will increase a certain amount yet on the average the increase ends up being 3 times the amount you state. Why do you think people and corporations are leaving Wayne it is due to high property taxes.
stock February 15, 2013 at 02:19 PM
This government has overtaxed and overtaxed for so many years. It's time for this government to be realistic and not assume the tax haven is unlimited.
Bob February 15, 2013 at 03:58 PM
It serves the Towship right for over taxing its residents and forcing people to move out of town once they retire. I know I can't remain based on the high tax burden I'm paying when I am on a fixed income. My services have not changed since I moved into the town but my taxes continue to esculate.Maybe the township has to rethink how they spend our money. Now the BOE wants more of our hard earned money and they will push it to the 2% limit so it doesn't have to go before the voters. This has to stop especially in these hard economic times. The township residents have had enough with the spending of our money.
Flood Plain February 15, 2013 at 04:18 PM
Wayne didn't lose tax revenues due to property owner appeals. Wayne lost taxes due to inaccurate appraisals. Now it's time to stop looking for more (replacement) revenue and start enacting spending cuts for NON essential functions and employees. It is also time to insist that Township employees who are sloven and duplications are eliminated and the Board of Ed budget is significantly reduced.
Scondo February 15, 2013 at 04:51 PM
This just leads me to believe that many other people should be appealingt their tax assessments. The deadline for which is April 1, and information can be obtained on line for the form, just google NJ Property Tax Appeal and you get the form and the instructions along with helpful instructions on how to do it. It is also increasingly clear that services will need to be cut as they have been in other areas of the nation. So it may be time for the town fathers to look into that.
bill halik February 15, 2013 at 05:03 PM
If you win you were not over taxed you were over assessed. Period live within your means or watch home values fall PERIOD.
Wayne's World February 15, 2013 at 05:06 PM
In addition to all of the very valid points above, did anyone catch the BOE article earlier this week that there are $2.2 million in compensation increases in the new school budget? How can that possibly be? Even if every teacher in the system received a cost of living raise, could it really amount to that much $? Aside from having too many services in this day and age, Wayne is carrying a huge part of the load for Passaic County. I'd love to know how much of the county budget Wayne's contribution comprises. We'd be better off as part of Morris County, where we'd be middle to lower end of the pack economically, instead of the only decent town in Passaic county.
Paula February 15, 2013 at 05:51 PM
I agree with everyone above. The writer and those quoted must have known they would invite this response by posting this article. Taxing residents more and more every year is not the answer. Letting some viable businesses into this town and not caving to those who don't want to see Wayne evolve and change is. Wayne cannot compete on a quality of life basis with many of the other towns in the area. Empty boarded up buildings like IHOP are left decaying for decades. Good locations for retail stores are left vacant. Continuous improvement of what Wayne has to offer would ease the pain of continuously increasing the taxes residents pay, but the opposite is happening instead. Time to wake up and listen to your constituents, don't you think?
eyes wide shut February 15, 2013 at 06:02 PM
Not ONLY has the assessment of land and dwelling gone up every year so has the tax rate in Wayne on property's. In 2005 the tax rate in Wayne was 3.1% TODAY it is 4.89% So even with appealing your assessments, the tax rate remains the same and will GO UP AGAIN EVERY YEAR..One can buy a home in say Franklin Lakes at 1,000,000 and pay 18,000. per year and that same home in Wayne could be as much as 26,000. Go figure
Bobtwo February 15, 2013 at 06:03 PM
To be honest we will state our feelings here but nothing will change. The administration will not listen to us and neither will the BOE. The 2% cap gives the BOE at least 2 plus million to count on. Spread that across the number of homes in Wayne and tell me what that comes to. Also I am willing to bet that they have a way of getting around the 2%. Department heads are making six figure salaries and retiring on 70% pensions. How many out there can count on that return in their retirement account?
Victor Alfieri February 15, 2013 at 06:25 PM
Albert Allen Bartlett Emeritus Professor Physics University of Colorado at Boulder The Exponential Function http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-QA2rkpBSY
Daniel Hubbard (Editor) February 15, 2013 at 06:27 PM
The article has been updated with a clarification. http://wayne.patch.com/articles/tax-appeals-cost-the-township-millions-last-year
eyes wide shut February 15, 2013 at 06:30 PM
Bobtwo. if you like myself and many of us, why do these people KEEP getting voted IN?
Chicken Little February 15, 2013 at 06:55 PM
Bobtwo, Bitching and moaning about pensions is a waste of time. The BOE cannot do anything about that. Pensions will eventually go the way of the rotary phone,like they have for most people. (Not just for teachers, but all public employees). Last year the board could have gone over the 2% cap, but didn't. Let's see if they stay at 2% (or less) for this budget.
zekeman February 15, 2013 at 07:05 PM
Agree - add the empty strip-mall buildings in Mountain View and the former Dodge dealership on Crossing Way/Rt.23; the vacant former car dealerships and vacant dilapidated restaurants on Hamburg Tpk by Black Ridge Road area; the old Dodge dealership on Hamburg by William Paterson; the old Fortunoff bldg in Willowbrook etc etc etc just to name a few. Plus - we cannot continue to support the public sector workers that put the burden on the private sector workers without reciprocity/paying their share for entitlements and pensions. Fact: the local Passaic Cty and NJ state government cannot give to any public sector employee anything that they don't take first in excess from somebody else in the private sector.
stewart resmer February 15, 2013 at 07:11 PM
here eyes, I can answer that http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MT3CihStFQ
Flood Plain February 15, 2013 at 07:24 PM
I agree with you 100%. Typical politicians. These pol are so self-aggrandizing and narcissistic that they forget that they are the employees of the taxpayers. Disgusting. These politicians never seem to realize that their harassment of businesses chases out good citizens. Just consider the exits of people from Illinois, NYC, and CA.
Al Scala February 15, 2013 at 08:40 PM
Well said Victor. They all are. Schweigart is not complicit in this alone. They all are responsible for bad decisions. The whole darn Council. I'd love to see them all voted out of office and I'm a Republican.
bill halik February 15, 2013 at 08:59 PM
Why does Pequannock and Pompton Plains enjoy a robust real estate market. Look at Trulia and the school ratings, going down but teacher salaries and benefits going up. Yep their school system is rated higher than Wayne and taxes are lower. Go ahead and get sick and see what your house is worth and see how much we pay these teachers and how many we have WHY?
ShillyZ February 15, 2013 at 09:12 PM
I have appealed my taxes as I feel that the homes in Wayne are not all assessed fairly. When asked why there has not been a town-wide assessment I was told it was too expensive. More expensive than all the appeals year after year?
Pad February 15, 2013 at 10:28 PM
As soon as you do almost anyhing to your house they are right there to raise your property taxes, but when home prices fell drastically did they come around to re-assess? No! All homes in Wayne are overtaxed. They harass buisness owners like crazy. Can they put up an LED or Neon sign? No. But go to Ceder Grove, Little Falls. Pequannock it's OK there, but not in Wayne. Wayne council people, the tax dept, building dept when you deal with them they have such attitudes. They keep fiddling around spending money while Wayne burns. Yes, buy out more houses, less revenue, build another recreation area that needs to be maintained, hire more school administrators, teachers and other six figure managers so we have to keep paying more & more. This town and the BOE need some serious budget cuts. Stop spending, freeze hiring and get more productivity out of your working staff. That would be a good start. And stop giving the teacher's union everything they ask for. They must know by now that the BOE killed the goose that laid the golden egg a long time ago.
Joe videodummy February 16, 2013 at 04:41 AM
I don't agree with anyone that feels they have the authority or opinion to tell another property owner what they can do with their property. I don't think there are any laws that allow townships to aquire and maintain open space, but prohibits a property/land owner from aquiring and maintaining their property as "open space". With that said, who's to say what the Owners of Wayne hills Mall, Willbrook Mall, Preakness Cheverlot, Wayne Dodge, Preakness Shopping Plaza, Mountain View Shopping Plaza, or any other property owner has to do with their property to satisfy the rest of the township.
Joe videodummy February 16, 2013 at 05:39 AM
As some know, as a taxpayer, I'm a strong proponent against purchasing flood prone properties. Some will argue that over the years the flooding has expanded into areas that "never flooded before", other's will argue that buying the flood prone properties isn't costing the township any money. To answer both arguements I stand my ground ( and I live well elevated on the mountain ) that allowing the township to continue to purchase these properties is going to eventually fracture our stability, and eliminate any chance of growth. Currently the township owns over 340 acres of flood zoned "sensitive" property that is recorded as "open space" or "off-the-tax-roll", but as you can see "some-one has to pay for it" and that "someone" is: anyone that is left after each round of buy-outs. The same holds true for Green Acres, whereas the township is purchasing property at a cut-rate, but the draw-down is actually re appearing as a tax increase after a few years in a form of 2%. It's a game of 3 cup Monty-Tax, Like the game, it's always a win win situation until you sit down to play.
Joe videodummy February 16, 2013 at 06:43 AM
Many businesses in Wayne weren't forced out because of taxes, some were flooded out, others like the auto dealerships re organized from the top down, or re located onto highways etc. Pontiac, Saturn, Oldsmobile are no longer in business, resturants are a coin toss, whereas a whole bunch of things have to come together all at once, and most of the locations of these "lost ratables" people are squabbling about are far from being in a prime spot. Even the Wayne Hills Mall property isn't the prime location it once was before the re configuration of Hamburg Turnpike and Berdan Ave. Re assessment of practically all of these vacant properties is "normal" when evaluated standing "alone". One day, the list of "buy-outs" may have to include such places as: Maroon Kia, Preakness Chevrolet, the entire Riverview Community, and Mountain view Shopping Plaza or a much larger section of Mountain View Community. Without a game changer, like a multi- billion dollar flood tunnel project, all we can do right now is either pay more taxes, or cut a big chunk out of our school budget. It's not like we're loaded with a bunch of ratable producing options.
Scondo February 16, 2013 at 04:00 PM
Nobody has said that, What they have said is that the vacant properties, some of which have become eyesores, tend to depress the value of the entire area. Also, the very existence of vacant and formerly productive and profitable locations speaks volumes as to the cost of doing business in a locale. I am sure that Wayne Dodge, Preakness Chevrolet and Borough Motors would all like to be in business even to this day. And given that they are all for sale and offered on the market tends to undercut the point that you are trying to make. It appears that in at least those instances they would rather profit than be sucked dry.
Pad February 16, 2013 at 10:30 PM
This town is forcing many buisness's to close and residents to move out. We are all overtaxed and over regulated in this Township. Permit fee's are high, everytime a homeowner does something to his property his taxes go up. One friends house was sorely in need of painting, he is disabled and on a fixed budget. Instead of repeated painting cost he chose to put on vinyl siding. Guess what his taxes went up $800.00. This township doesn't know how to stop spending. They are always hiring, building new recreation areas etc. Enough already. Lets put effort into reducing taxes and find a way to reduce employee benefit cost. It can be done but I guess its easier to spend money then cut cost. State Farm building over 20 years vacant on prime real estate. Why? Everyone who showed interest in the property was turned away by the Township for one reason or another. Wayne Hills Mall & Wayne Towne Center Why? It seems Clifton & Nutley have no probem attracting commercial ratables look at the Rt 3 area. Tons of new ratables. Its this Townships leaders, zoning and building depts and the sky high taxes here. They need to take a good look at what they are doing to this Township and its taxpayers.
Pad February 17, 2013 at 04:39 PM
As reported in The Record today there is a 15 to 30% drop in children under the age of 5 in Wayne according to the latest census. In turn school enrollment will be dropping in the years ahead. Did we really have to spend millions of taxpayer dollars for the new Anthony Wayne Middle School? They had to staff this school with teachers, administrators, support staff etc etc. I guess somewhere down the line one of the existing middle schools will be closed and sold and then resold so certain individuals can make alot of money on the deal as was the case with the old Anthony Wayne Middle School on Valley Road. When the new school was built they new future enrollment was gonna drop but they built it anyway. This contributed to a large increase in the yearly school budget. The BOE in this Township is destroying this town by its neverending need for more and more money. If the school budget is capped at 2% under state law where do they come off proposing an increase thats over 3.5%. Everytime taxes go up more people move out or cannot afford to maintain thier homes because all thier money is going to pay taxes. Coupled with millions lost due to appeals and loss of commercial ratables this Township is going into a downward nose dive while the BOE & the Township keep spending more and more of our hard earned tax dollars. Town Council Members & BOE members "WISE UP". Your killing the residents with your greed for more & more money.
Wayne's World February 20, 2013 at 02:23 PM
Right on, Pad. Town should have added on to Schuyler-Colfax to accommodate influx of students. If enrollment drops enough someday, then it could have been consolidated into the only middle school. New Anthony Wayne is a sad destruction of open space, a traffic problem for an area that didn't have one before and doesn't have the infrastructure to support it and, to top it off, a very expensive building the cost of which could have been reduced by adding on to SCJHS.
Justice February 20, 2013 at 02:45 PM
Logical but then the swine could not be properly fed. Could they? Did the Messercola days ever leave?

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