“Shock. Terror. Horror,” James Abraham of Wildwood Avenue said of his reaction to his new assessment, the product of Montclair’s first property revaluation since 1989.
Last week, numerous residents turned up at Montclair’s main library for informal meetings with Appraisal Systems appraisers acting as hearing officers.
At the library, the company set up displays bearing the pictures of homes and their pricetags from sales going back to the dawn of 2005. The examples were eye-opening.
On Gordonhurst Avenue, a 1925 Colonial with 4 bedrooms and 1,959 square feet of living space (left) sold for $770,000 in May 2006.
On nearby Waterbury Road, a 1927 Colonial with 5 bedrooms and 3,223 square feet of living space sold for $1.1 million a year earlier, in May 2005.
They were but two of many examples from “neighborhood 18,” a region bounded by Grove Street and Valley Road to the east and west and Bellevue and Watchung avenues to the north and south.
Still, no answers as to what these letters actually mean in monthly payments…
Montclair’s tax rate is now $5.36 per $100 assessed valuation. The average Montclair homeowner, whose house is now assessed at $250,000, is paying $13,400 in property taxes this year.
As a rule of thumb, experts say, a revaluation can result in a third of the property owners paying more, a third paying less and a third staying the same as the new values iron out inequities in the tax burden, the reason the Essex County Tax Board ordered the revaluation in the first place.
But until the new tax rate is set later this year, it’s considered guesswork. “Never. Never,” Joan Durkin, the Essex County tax administrator, said when asked if she could venture an estimate of a new tax rate.
During an October hearing, though, Rick Del Guercio, a principal of Appraisal Systems, did offer up a hypothetical. If the assessments are doubled to bring them up to market value, he said, then the tax rate would be cut in half, to $2.68 per $100 assessed valuation.