Update: Former Township Manager Joe Hartnett has sent us a copy of the report the town council issued after the 2007 tax revaluation when all properties were re-assessed. “This is what your readers are posting about, as to why no such information was issued after the 2012 reassessments were done,” he told us.

Just when you were feeling warm and fuzzy with Montclair after the great Fourth of July Parade, this news comes in: The new estimated tax rate percentage for the 3rd quarter will increase by over 20 percent to 3.252 percent. (note: the number itself is a bit over 20% higher, but we don’t know yet what it translates to.)

This new tax rate is up from 2.561 percent. We received an email from a tipster and a call to the Tax Collector office at 205 Claremont confirms the rate increase. The Chief Financial Officer, Frank Mason is on vacation until Monday, but we’ve left a message to find out the details on how the new rate was determined.

According to the Township’s website and Tax Re-Assessment FAQ’s, “New property assessments resulting from the Re-Assessment became effective January 1, 2012. However, new assessments are not reflected in the tax bill until the 3rd and 4th quarter of 2012. The new tax rate will be determined after the School District, Essex County, and Montclair Township finalize their 2012 budgets. Municipal tax payments are due February 1, May 1, August 1, November 1 each year. There is a 10-day grace period for receiving payments.”

55 replies on “Montclair’s New Estimated 3rd Quarter Tax Rate Increased by Over 20 Percent (Updated)”

  1. This is a misleading and needlessly inflammatory headline. Of course the mill rate is going up. The town recently completed a reevaluation in which the average property value was reset an average of 17 percent lower.
    Go do some real reporting and some real math and let us know how much more (or less (let me dream)) the town is confiscating in taxes and how much more it is spending.

  2. waltermitty – I agree there’s more to the story, but it’s a legitimate post. How many people got notice of their new, lower assessment and assumed their taxes were going down? Well…Surprise! And guess what, it’s too late to file an appeal to challenge your new assessment because the deadline for that was May 1.

    That’s Jerry Fried’s real legacy. He leaves you with a tax rate equivalent to that of East Orange and Irvington. WTG Jerry.

  3. Disinformation instead of news.

    The reassessment led to a lower valuation which of course implied a higher tax rate. That does not mean that the tax amount increases.

  4. Anyone who assumed their taxes were going down is a fool and not paying attention.

    Just doing some quick back of the envelope calculations: The mill rate appears to have gone up by 26.9 % If your 2012 assessment was less than that much lower than your 2011 assessed value, you are going to pay more.

    For us, if the new rate is the real rate for the whole year, it translates to a 20% increase in real estate taxes over what we paid in 2011. We appealed our assessment that year, so our 2011 bill was lower than what the town wanted. They might claim this year’s increase is only 7%. But I won’t be fooled; this town tries to claim a lot of nonsense.

    I do hope this jump is due to the town’s front-loading its increase into the third and fourth quarters, and that the first and second quarters of 2013 will show a lower rate, as has been the case previously.

    But you are indeed correct about Jerry Fried. Neither gone, nor forgotten, unfortunately.

  5. “How many people got notice of their new, lower assessment and assumed their taxes were going down?”

    Only Fools and ignoramuses

    might sound harsh but it needs to be said.

  6. walter – It’s the new rate for the whole year. And because of the way the town manages the budget, not setting the new rate until July, you get to pay your increase in 2 payments instead of 4.

    I remember the 2006 revaluation. My neighborhood saw an increase of about 25%. My elderly neighbors who could barely speak English had been paying $10k/year pre reval. They got a 3rd quarter tax bill of $5k. They thought their taxes had gone up to $20k. I thought the husband was going to drop dead of a heart attack when he opened that envelope.

  7. Stick it to ya!

    And the man strikes again!

    You’ve been robbed… yet again… and there ain’t nothing you can do about it.

    Those fat cats got your number… and your wallet.

    The tipping point will be reached… eventually…

  8. The second FU from the outgoing Fried 5.
    The first was the nursing home approval.
    I’m sure they’ll be more

  9. Yes, but we will have a lovely assisted living facility erected as a cornerstone to our newly improved South Park and Church shopping area. Bring in those laundry and food delivery trucks and ambulances. Watch how quickly this becomes a not for profit and we lose a valuable ratable.

  10. I just want to be able to put aside money to pay the bill when it comes in. How do they expect anyone to do that when the bill is going to be a big surprise?

  11. And, based on the trancelike state he seems to be in today going by his posts, walleroo surely will, and soon.

    Who I miss in these pre-dog days (they’re not till August in a calendrical sense), is Mathilda? Where is our Cassandra-like voice for the environment and for critters these days? It’s been at least several months, and I’d love to hear her take on property tax. (Sort of like Biden, I’d expect her to opine they’re a good thing, but you never know.)

  12. @AG “I just want to be able to put aside money to pay the bill when it comes in. How do they expect anyone to do that when the bill is going to be a big surprise?”

    Its really: take your last bill, multiply that amount by 1.15

  13. We just bought a new home in Montclair (not our first here). We started looking a year ago. We KNEW that the tax rate was going up. It’s been all over the media, and common knowledge for at least that long. Our (new) home was originally assessed at a certain price but REASSESSED at another (lower) price. When we crunched our budget to find out what we could afford, we had a basic idea of what we would need to pay in taxes next year. By our calculations, and this article, our estimate was right on. I hate how high our taxes are, but I don’t get why everyone’s reacting as though they didn’t see this coming…(And I do think the headline is a little manipulative. The “20%” is, technically, correct, but it’s also startling.)

  14. The prior Council had an opportunity to analyze the new assessments and to estimate its impact on the taxpayer. They chose not to.

    Many people assumed lower assessment mean lower taxes. Foolishly assumed.

    I did some calculations showing the “average” change, plus or minus, was not significant. The problem is, if you look at the changes as a “normal distribution” you’ll see HUGE outliers. Some homes with taxes going up $8K or more. There are probably several hundred with increases greater than $4,000 and while that’s probably for a home in the $800K range, it’s still startling.

    My point is that analysis could have been done but wasn’t. Even our former Town Manager, Joe Hartnett, produced an analysis of the impact.

    Our Manager produced one analysis that was riddled with missing data and mistakes. I tried to get them corrected, to no avail.

    For those who UNDERSTOOD that assessment is not taxes, and that they would have to APPEAL the assessment, they also realized the last date to appeal was May 1, 2012.

    “Coincidentally,” the new tax bills are coming in July when it is too late to appeal for 2012. Coincidentally the new tax bills waited for the new council so that they would take the heat.

  15. Another thing the reassessment company could have easily done was produce a 2011 equivalent tax rate. i.e. had the new assessments been in place for 2011 here is what your taxes would have been. This number could then be compared in black and white to what you actually paid in 2011 taxes. This is normal practice after a reassessment/revaluation. I wonder why it wasn’t done here.

  16. NJ,

    This is what I asked for. The company was not very cooperative, refusing to even explain in detail what their “process” was.

    No one on the Council had the motivation or interest to analyze the numbers, except me.

    This weekend I’ll crank out some more analysis.

  17. the difference was just under $0.5MM in adjustments and appeals.
    next year will be about 3x this.
    none of this is news.

  18. Next up: The New York Times will label anyone who gripes about their real estate tax increase as a bunch of Tea Partiers.

    Most likely, that’s you now.

  19. I highly doubt the NYT will do a follow-up on a regional article. But, you never know…the Pulitzer nominating members might have all moved to Montclair.

  20. Failed politicians blaming other failed politicians. Next year a new round of tax appeals. This town is in major trouble.

  21. My all-time favorite will be when they take all of Gateway 1 (Centro Verde) off the tax roles for the next 3 years. That will be close to a cool million.
    Add a couple of new synthetic athletic fields, post-election interest spike, etc, etc and forget about $3.252. Try 3.752 two summers from now. It’s not too bad. Just put aside $40/week and you’ll be good to go.

  22. Okay, let’s be honest. No matter how you cut it this isn’t great news for anyone.

    So let’s stop and ask what we can do about it, other than complaining on a local blog?

    Me? I just moved to Connecticut. We lived in Montclair for 6 years. We loved it. Good people, nice homes, okay schools.

    And one day we woke up and realized that it had stopped making sense. So we put a For Sale sign in our yard and moved.

    Now our taxes are literally half of what they were in Montclair, our public schools are fantastic, we live by the beach, and my commute into the city is just 15 minutes longer. Plus, I don’t have to deal with the soul crushing herding calls at Penn Station.

    My point is simple. You can move. You aren’t stuck. There are other wonderful places to live within commuting distance of NYC. Montclair is a concept that doesn’t work anymore…at least for me.

  23. I pay my taxes. They were $5,600 first two quarters. Now to catch up I have a bill of $7,900 due for the next two. I knew it was coming but government should not make life so difficult to plan for.

  24. Plus the new rate tells the tale of the 30 year mortgage at 3.5%

    $449.04 mortgage $270.00 taxes monthly

    with 20% down (125K assesed value 100k borrowed)

    $449.04 mortgage $338 taxes monthly

    this means that 10% decrease in taxes would allow a 6% increase in sales price to keep monthly payments the same.

    unfortuantely the inverse is true as well

  25. May we please hear from any litigious types out there on whether this increase would violate state law capping annual RE tax increases to 2% per year? And if anyone can imagine suing the town to stop it?

  26. Walter, sadly, it’s 2% with a lot of exceptions. So there’s no help to be found from the litigious
    amongst us. From the NY Times:

    The new law exempts cost increases for health care, pensions, debt service, states of emergency and increased school enrollment. It also considers increases over three years, so that a local government that raises taxes by less than 2 percent in one year can “bank” the difference and exceed the cap over the following two years. Otherwise, the government would need voter approval to exceed the limit.

    And the law actually makes it easier for voters to exceed the cap; under the 2007 law, a 60 percent vote was needed, but the new measure requires a simple majority.

  27. Nail on the head JG. A familiar theme for municipal, county, state and even the federal budget. Healthcare, pensions, and debt service. Hopefully helicopter Ben keeps the money flowing and rates low.

  28. walter – It’s a leaky cap…but also the cap is on the LEVY not on the RATE. Your only recourse is if your assessment is more than the house is worth AND if you filed an appeal before May 1.

    Now of course these assessments are all supposed to be below market value to give the town some downside protection against further price declines. But the town’s not going to admit to that at hearing this year. I’m guessing that a lot of folks who actually got screwed in this reassessment will not be successful in their appeals. I expect to fall into that category.

  29. I suspect everyone in Upper Montclair will see an increase too. Betting the assessments here are low enough to prevent any appeals but not quite low enough to prevent a couple of percentage points in real increases. Forgive me for my conspiracy theories, but a handful of people on the last council were pretty transparent about the need for social justice in town, which somehow translates into people in the first ward deserving to be punished for the crime of being better off (in their minds) than the other wards.

  30. Folks, this theme will never stop – we all know the reasons for it. And given the timing, I for one have no hope that the newly elected “Administration” has the strength or the resolve to solve the fiscal problems / legacy this town has faced since 1986. One poster’ noted that the tipping point is coming. Well not until the square foot / tax rates get to parity with the upper west side.

  31. Scarlett: Connecticut, huh? Okay, if you like that sort of thing. Most of my friends from high school moved there, and every time I visit, I cannot wait to get home. It’s lovely. But you just can’t compare CT and Montclair. You are probably white, economically comfortable, and not all that committed to the culture and artistic offerings found in this urban town, not to mention the mix of people–racially, intellectually, etc. Fine. But there are things you can’t quantify, and while I don’t like the high taxes here, plenty of people don’t see CT as the solution. It’s just so damn boring.

  32. CT is more diverse than you may realize, playdates. It’s not all New Canaan. Take a look at Norwalk (includes Rowayton), Stamford, Fairfield–and that’s not counting the obvious New Haven, Bridgeport, etc. Vibrant arts scenes, diversity, good schools, the Sound…higher house prices but lower taxes. It’s looking better and better!

  33. Oliver, you forgot to mention Westport. And it’s true, New Haven, Norwalk and Stamford all have a pretty diverse population and vibrant arts scenes and they now all have really nice waterfront parks. Even Bridgeport has a pretty nice waterfront area now. And longtime, our taxes are significantly higher than the Upper West Side’s and the commute is a lot suckier.

  34. “You are probably white, economically comfortable, and not all that committed to the culture and artistic offerings found in this urban town, not to mention the mix of people–racially, intellectually, etc. Fine.”

    Don’t you know that you have to pay handsomely for the privilege of living in this diverse oasis filled with interesting people of superior intellect to you? I realized this recently while discussing the discovery of the Higgs Boson particle with a neighbor who was recently robbed when he left his 1st floor window open a fraction of an inch and went shopping. We both of course laughed about how fortunate we are to live in this vibrant cultural mecca. I said that it is in fact WE who should be paying the scoundrals for this type of valuable life lesson and then we laughed some more when the realization occured to us that in fact we are!

  35. You’re all forgetting that 60% of our taxes are county taxes and going to support Newark. The 203 area code has a much tonier population that isn’t as dependent upon government assistance programs as the good old 973. Thats a big part of the problem, here.

  36. redrum, Fairfield has it’s share of urban issues in Bridgeport, Norwalk, New Haven and parts of Stamford. You can’t blame Newark, but you can blame the NJ system of government and politics.

  37. writing on these web pages ain’t going to stop the pain. keep on your newly elected representatives, make sure they know directly that you do in fact care about our property taxes. efficiency is not evil.

  38. redrum- believe that the property tax breakdown is 20% municipal, 20% county and 60% school district or something close to that level. The schools are the 800 lb gorilla in the room but the BOE has done a good job of finding savings and surplus over the last couple of years.

  39. Scarlett, Good for you! I’m going to follow you out. The bottomline is people will not continue to pay for this urban “utopia”. The same silly people on this site have been living off the rich on the “hill”. Well take a good look? All those houses can’t sell. The tax assestments will continue to be challenged. The “middle” and “sub-middle” will have to pay more. Let’s see who is crying in the next four years. Irvington was beautiful once. ONCE?!?!

  40. Ihateplaydates: Connecticut? Well, yeah, I guess I do like “that sort of thing.”

    I like that my kids get a kick ass education.

    I like that there are lots of nice, clean parks around here.

    I like that I don’t have to lock my doors at night.

    I like that we didn’t have to do a fundraiser to put on a 4th of July show.

    I like that my kids have a big yard to run around and explore in…and I pay 50% less in taxes than I did in Montclair.

    I like that the taxes on my house haven’t gone up in 5 years. They’ve actually gone down.

    It’s pretty clear that you’re just another hipster douche who’s so desperate to create an identity that every day you have to put on a blindfold and mask the reality of your life.
    I bet you look awesome in a fedora.

    Your take on Connecticut is pathetic and overly generalized, and I love the fact that you get your “culture and artistic offerings” from Montclair. Really? That’s what feeds you?
    I go to New York City every day. I work there and I hang out there…so I think I’ll be okay getting my fair share of culture and artistic offerings.

    Keep giving it to the man! You’ll win eventually!


  41. Ihateplydates post above is typical of certain Montclair residents that spin obviously negative aspects of living here as benefits that derive from the town’s urbanity, diversity, and progressiveness. This is, of course, complete baloney. There are of course benefits to diversity, but this hand has been overplayed. From my perspective the motivations for many people moving to Montclair are similar to leasing a car. Most people that lease cars do so to be able to drive a nicer car than they could likely afford to buy outright. So you get to drive an impressive vehicle, but you you have a stream of relatively high monthly payments., and at the end of the lease term, you don’t own the car and can even owe money for wear and tear. The housing market here is very similar. The same house in many other communities would be significantly more expensive, but here it’s yours as long as you’re willing to be bled by taxes and willing to play along with the canard that the town is somehow special and offers some unquantifiable social benefits that paper over the bad economics.
    To be fair, CT is not Utopia. There is social friction and urban blight. Greenwich high school is more like Montclair than New Canaan. One difference is that, since property taxes are far lower, property values are commensurately higher. The train can miraculously cover 40 miles in the time that it takes ours to go 15, but that’s true for some parts of NJ as well. If there are problems with the train, you’re out of luck. Driving is the same, but you will pay far more for gas.

  42. Pushy and mindless re development to create ratables at the cost of demolishing Montclair’s valuable and distinctive old buildings to then replace them with “bad/new” is what will turn Montclair into a situation like Irvington, Passaic and Yonkers. For sure. Thats what the Siena, the Centro Verde, the Assisted Living, Washington St School and Crisco Court have begun to do…they’re eroding Montclair’s distinctive built environment. Montclair will become like anyplace else that is afflicted by urban blight. Sadly, this will de-motivate homeowners from paying the hight taxes and expenses to maintain the beautiful old houses, because it will just not be worth it for the quality of life that you will get in return. All they are saying about the new LEED buildings is smoke and mirrors because they’re built with components have a short life span and will wind up in dumps in 20 years. The best solution is adaptive re use like the excellent Kathrine Gibbs, Bangz and Christ Church projects. now there should be a focus on how to re adapt the fine old homes….. why build big hotel, big condo and assisted living facilities when the beautiful old houses can be re cycled into new uses? There is a section for historic resources within the Department of Environmental Protection in Trenton. We should begin lobbying in Trenton to protect Montclair from the elected officials who are destroying the town while smothering the property owners with unaffordable and unjustifiable high taxes.

  43. Spot on, frankgg!

    Which is why I’ve said all along that the Georgian Inn site would have been perfect for Assisted Living! The building could have been sensitively re-done, but even if it wasn’t the facility would be in a RESIDENTIAL area with plenty of parking and within a short distance of Whole Foods and the museum. I believe the “footprint” is also bigger.

    But the Church Street lot was pursued because it has stood vacant for so long, and a “good deal” was struck.

    Block by block planning isn’t the way to go. Fixing up the “DCH” site on the south side of Bloomfield Avenue is not going to do much when the North side is an abandoned car dealership!

    Not to mention the carving out of the properties — such as Thai Chef and Ferraras Auto body as well as a plumbing supply garage — so that the project could be quickly implemented.

  44. The Bierman House would have made a great assisted living (it already was one) as well as the St. Vincents Hospital, a magnificent old building designed by Dudley Van Antwerp that was raised to build the un necessary Washington St school.

    The Marborough Inn, would have made a great hotel…. it already was one.

    The Georgian Inn was the home of Charles Van Vleck who designed Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, B Altmans, The Rockeffeller’s Mansions on Fifth avenue as well some of our finer estates and buildings in Montclair….

    Adaptive re use could also create a great new economy for property owners because the fine old homes of Montclair are famous and attract visitors. Montclair could revert back to being a weekend destination….Stay in an old mansion….visit historic houses…fine dining….a Wellmont Concert…. boutique shopping….nature walks…. why isn’t anyone seeing the value and economic possibilities in developing the resources that gave Montclair its “name” ? …instead of recklessly loosing it all…

  45. Frankgg, you are 100% correct. I scratch my head on a daily basis wondering how the town council and the planning board fail to see the value in what we already have and allow glorious structures to be torn down only to be replaced with merde. And Passaic and Irvington are pretty good examples of what can happen to an older town. The assisted living facility is going to bite us in the butt twice – it’s going to be ugly and will offer nothing interesting for pedestrians other than a window into a lobby with a guard at the desk and we’re also going to lose the ratable when it becomes a not for profit. It’s a lose/lose for the town.
    Centro Verde is a disaster in the making, there’s already not enough parking. I have no idea why White Plains is the bar that’s been set for the latest round of development. I understand from the Mayor’s FB page that “urbanization” is the big buzz word right now, but Montclair is not downtown Cleveland, or Portland, or Brooklyn or any of those old urban centers that’s being revitalized by young urban professionals. We don’t have the jobs, that’s why they move to urban centers – primarily to be close to work and an in a cool old hood filled with kindred spirits.

    Montclair could be a “destination”, like Lambertville or Red Bank. We should find a way to get MSU involved in having some kind of adjunct in downtown – like an art school (proximity to museum) or a cooking school with a restaurant or plays staged by the theatre department. Something. Sadly, Montclair is turning into a suburb in which grand old buildings get torn down and replaced by a bunch of smaller and less attractive homes and the downtown is going to lose any and all of it’s charm thanks to a bunch of big pink buildings. The Salvation Army building, the new school and the coming ALF and Centro Verde buildings will do nothing to make downtown a place worth visiting.

  46. You have such good ideas Jerseygirl and its so true what you say!

    South Park already looks cheep and ugly….not an attractive space….so out of place for Montclair! Just the bad karma alone from the assisted living (its so annoying how these facilities are so expensive for the elderly residents and their families….but the only good that is done or love that is given is from their exploited workers who are paid quite miserably, working tirelessly as if the residents were elderly family members) I’ve dealt with this bad experience for about ten years…believe me.

    The Centro Verde idea is like a bad hallucination.

    Montclair Center? R.I.P.

    The reality between Montclair Center and the residential areas is becoming like the relationship West Orange/Llewellyn Park…. a remarkably beautiful residential area, but so expensive to sustain your house there …and surrounded by a blighted, problem ridden and totally avoided commercial district.

  47. As noted, the rate is what matters, as it comes from the budgets passed by elected representatives of the people. Re-val company work is reviewed by township employees to make sure that enough room exists between present values, always a little old even though they are new, and the trend line which is slightly downward. Otherwise, another re-val project will be needed sooner: an art from the science of actual market sales.
    I can’t help notice our 220 million debt juxteposed with the 110 million debt I believe, in San Bernardino, CA about to declare bankruptcy. I wonder what the risk is here. Do we squeeze the turnip dry and then we know? If services are curtailed such as police, do national guard troops count as new jobs? Then is that a sign of recovery? It’s a good thing Montclair incomes are apparently rising with taxes, else we couldn’t take it anymore and would insist on better decision making, like new schools, projects of reduced ratables downtown, tax-free land give-away such as town property to HOME Corp. Maybe a little more common sense would help. But maybe not. They do seem like smart people.

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