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.