UPDATE: Figuring Out Your Tax Bill

Montclair officials release reassessment information.


Montclair taxpayers received their recently issued tax bills in the mail late last week, bills that reflect changes based on the reassessed value of their properties. As a result, Montclair Patch has been bombarded with emails from Montclair residents concerned that their taxes have increased dramatically. Some charge that they soon will be putting their homes on the market.

But Councilor Bill Hurlock said today that at least some residents are reading their bills the wrong way.

"Essentially people are erroneously multiplying the third quarter payment by four and claiming that this is their new tax," he said. "The third quarter captures part of the payment for quarters one and two, thus it is already elevated."

He said that the township website has issued an update on the proper way to look at the property tax issue.

For those still confused by their tax bill, there's little the new Township Council can do about it. Assessments have been filed with the county and are completed for this year, meaning people can file an appeal—but for next year.

Here's the note from the township:

Montclair taxpayers received their recently issued tax bills which reflect changes based on the reassessed value of their property. Some tax bills increased in amounts greater than the spending increases approved in the municipal, school and county budgets – the atypical increase is a result of the township-wide reassessment conducted in 2011.

With the decline the housing market, Montclair property owners have filed 3,724 tax appeals since 2007. The appeals reduced the assessed value only on the properties whose owners successfully appealed. With only a portion of properties being adjusted to market value, an unfair shift in the tax burden was created that could only be adjusted through a township-wide reassessment.

Since reassessments adjust properties to market value, the properties whose assessments were closer to market value prior to the reassessment will see an increase in their tax burden.

Multiplying your third quarter bill by four will not accurately reflect your annual taxes – to determine your annual bill, multiply your new assessed value by the tax rate .03252.

The table below illustrates how the reassessment increased or decreased tax bills.

  No. Properties No. Properties  

Amount of Change

Increase Decrease Total Properties =>100 291 391   Between 101 and 500 Dollars 935 893   Between 501 and 1,000 Dollars 625 1,013   Between 1,001 and 2,000 Dollars 794 2,103   Between 2,001 and 4,000 Dollars 953 1,187   Between 4,001 and 6,000 Dollars 216 137   Between 6,001 and 8,000 Dollars 40 28   8,000 + 30 33     3,884 5,785 9,669  

As an aside, the Township Council will be holding its first regular meeting tonight at 8 p.m. (Also, you can take a look at your own taxes as well as everyone else's taxes by going here.)


STEPHANIE WOOD July 16, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Chris, watch Peter Peterson's film on the US Debt - which was doubled by the Republicans (Reagan & Bush Jr). Peterson, oddly enough, is a Republican! But he does the math and damns his own party. Deregulation, which is unconstitutional, was also a no brain child of the Republicans. It's time we got a strong 3rd party. Don't look to the GOP which created most of the problems we're dealing with now as a nation.
Peter Simon July 16, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Millburn and Glen Ridge are, essentially, segregated school districts. The results are as you would expect. I honestly don't see why anyone in Montclair (I'm looking at you, Cary) would hold those districts up as comparisons. They're apples and we're an orange. But, okay, we can't resist comparisons. It turns out that there's a way to compare apples to apples. When it comes to NJASK assessments of the sons and daughters of the professional class (i.e., the (predominantly) white and wealthy), Montclair schools match (in the case of Millburn) or exceed (in the case of Glen Ridge) the performance of the school districts that everyone who relies on NJ Monthly for their information claims are the "top" schools. Here are the data sets: Comparison with Glen Ridge (white students): http://bit.ly/NNVuio Comparison with Millburn (white students): http://bit.ly/M3C1Yu In case you're wondering why I'm comparing only white students in these districts, it's because white students are just about the only kind they have in Millburn and Glen Ridge (statistically & demographically speaking). The comparison basically says that, if you were to suddenly lift all of the white students in the Montclair school system out of Montclair, and deposit them in a new town of their very own--let's call it "Montwhiteville, NJ"--then Montwhiteville's school district would immediately be in the top ten of NJ Monthly's "Best Schools" issue.
A. Gideon July 16, 2012 at 06:54 PM
"What I can't understand is why we aren't getting either a reduction in the school district portion OR a movement to restore lower class sizes. Seems indefensible in the current financial environment in the face of their huge surplus this year." There's definitely room for disagreement on this. My understanding of what the BOE is doing is putting the extra couple of million - and that's all it really is, despite all the misinformation out there - into reserves. Ideally, these reserves will be used instead of selling more bonds. Ultimately, that saves us money in that we're not paying all those interest costs - costs which currently consume roughly 20% of the town's current operating expenses. Should the district instead return the money (in the form of reduced taxes) knowing that the result will be higher interest costs - and therefore higher taxes - in the future? For those planning to move in the next year or so, the answer would clearly be "yes". For those of us looking to remain longer, it's a tougher question. Also factoring into this is that the district currently has a less than complete grasp on which savings it saw over the past couple of years are real and permanent, and which are merely the result of one-time events. With the change in auditors and business manager, I'm somewhat hopeful that we'll be getting a better grasp on this in the future. [Continued]
A. Gideon July 16, 2012 at 06:56 PM
[Continuing] As for reducing class size: This is just another way to twist the picture, but the issue remains the same. It would increase future spending both on interest and staff. That translates to higher increases in future taxes. Is it worth it? As a parent with two kids in elementary school, but one that also pays taxes (and with an understanding of the number of families we're at risk of losing because of our taxes)...well...I don't envy the BOE for having to make these choices. ...Andrew
Shelley Emling (Editor) July 16, 2012 at 06:57 PM
I would suggest folks come out tomorrow night to the council meeting and ask some questions.. I know I'll be there.
Shelley Emling (Editor) July 16, 2012 at 07:00 PM
Meeting's at 8 p.m. Tuesday night by the way at 205 Claremont.
Shelley Emling (Editor) July 16, 2012 at 07:12 PM
I've been told that any tax questions should go to the tax assessor's office. Look on the township website under "finances and taxes."
ira shor July 16, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Thank you Mr. Simon for very clear answer to the false comparison of multiracial Mtc to segregated towns. On another point, when fed tax rates were high for millionaires(90%) and corporations(70%)most families in America did much better than they are doing now. This was the long postwar period of economic expansion and high taxes when bottom 80% of families raised their incomes more than did the top 20%. All families, that is, did well during the earlier period of high taxes(1947-1977)and govt. financing of robust public sector and social services, not just black families alone in this period. Reagan began era of tax cuts for the 1% and for corporations that has snowballed for 30 yrs now and the bottom 80% are in deeper and deeper trouble. Billionaire Warren Buffett calls it a class war of the rich against everyone else and he says his class, the rich, are winning, so he decently demands that govt stop coddling billionaires like him and raise taxes. This is what we can accomplish here in Mtc by turning to a progressive real estate tax to replace the regressive tax now in place. It will help all home-owners below 60% ratable level, including retirees on fixed income. Progressive taxation is the fair, decent and civic way to go if we want to maintain the property premium given to this town by well-funded public schools and public amenities.
Randall July 16, 2012 at 07:37 PM
A little help on figuring out if your taxes are up or down in 2012 vs 2011. 1. Multiply your old assessment by 2.561% - that's what you paid in 2011 2. Now, multiply new assessment by 3.252% - this is what you're paying in 2012 Which one's higher???? Forget trying to use percentages up or down and it's not worth the effort needed to explain why the Q3 payment times 4 is irrelevant. The Q4 payment in November will be same as the Q3 figure you just received unless the final tax rate is different than 3.252% Now isn't that easy?
MountieClass of 93 July 16, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Ira - you lost me at "Fair" Who decides what is fair? If all people pay the same %...by definition the rich pay more than the poor.
Shelley Emling (Editor) July 16, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Thanks Randall.
montclairgurl July 16, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Or add Q1, Q2 and Q3 and assume Q4 is the same as Q3. That's what I did and I am definitely up from last year. Now someone will try to convince me I was underpaying last year.
Shelley Emling (Editor) July 16, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Good info Peter Simon.
chris July 16, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Stephanie -- GOP did not cause most of the problems we are dealing with now, that's bologna. I am not saying republicans are saints, but how can you even compare what the current administration has done to our debt?? A 1 trillion dollar stimulus that got us nothing -- Obama has spent more than if you start at George Washington THRU GW Bush. Look at unemployment under Reagan and Bush -- you really gonna go down that road?? America should return to Reagan's four proven policies for an enduring economic recovery: real and sustained tax relief, fiscal integrity, smart regulatory reform, sound monetary policy - period.
Jacob Peck July 17, 2012 at 12:42 AM
Nice try Ira. I agree with you but your idea requires compassion and a willingness to help those less fortunate than oneself. Call me cynical or perhaps a realist but most of the "1%" or "10" are not as altruistic as Warren Buffet.
Shelley Emling (Editor) July 17, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Am sure I'll see many of you tomorrow night..
Cary Africk July 17, 2012 at 02:45 AM
My comment on Short Hills, ie people are spending more to move there because of the schools, is based on things people TELL ME. It's based on discussions with many realtors, and with people I know who made the decision to move there. And remember, although it may cost you more to buy a house in Short Hills, in 20 years your mortgage payment will be the same, and based on history your taxes will be lower than in Montclair. In 20 years there's no telling where Montclair's taxes will be in 20 years!
A. Gideon July 17, 2012 at 07:14 PM
"The town was doing self-insurance which is ridiculously expensive." Are you sure? This - http://montclairnjusa.org/dmdocuments/R_12_150.pdf - is part of the July 17 meeting agenda. It implies that Montclair does currently participate in the state's insurance program. It also states that the council is planning to cease use of that program. There's no mention of the replacement that I can see in that document or the rest of the agenda. ...Andrew
Stuart Weissman July 17, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Andrew...The new town council has decided to pay back the county machine with a new contract from the firm that Joe D's son used to be head of sales for and is now their president. It appears the tea-partiers were right. :P "Dashield also presented a report from IMAC Insurance in Belleville, who recommended a proposed resolution terminating Montclair’s agreement with the State Health Benefits Program, in which some groups in the insurance pool subsidize others so that all of them pay the same rate. IMAC recommended switching Montclair’s public employees to Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, which they believe provides similar service and could save the township 11 percent over the year of the contract. They strongly recommended passing it sooner than later to have it effective within two months. Who is IMAC? Well, the IMAC website doesn’t tell you much, but according to LinkedIn Joe G. DiVincenzo, son of Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, was formerly vice president of sales at IMAC Insurance Agency. Joseph Maurillo is currently associated with the company as president; he’s also part owner of Nanina’s In The Park. Maurillo appears to have made these political contributions and has a foundation. Nutley schools also appear to be using IMAC." http://www.baristanet.com/2012/07/imac/
A. Gideon July 17, 2012 at 08:15 PM
I want to write to acknowledge your post, Stuart. Thank you for the information. I would like to write more on the topic, but - uncharacteristically - I am left speechless. Is there at least a counter-argument to http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-02-28/new-jersey-cities-shunning-state-health-plan-lose-100-million-audit-says ? ...Andrew
montclairgurl July 17, 2012 at 08:31 PM
The paybacks will continue. We already know the current council's position on outsourcing. The will hire more employees, and buy more trucks and equipment and to sell our services to other towns. We already know this doesn't work.
Stuart Weissman July 17, 2012 at 09:06 PM
It could work, if the town was run efficiently. Which we all know is not the case here. After we moved from Montclair to Glen Ridge, we went in person to the Municipal Office to officially change our address with the town since we still own our old multi-family in Montclair. Guess where our property tax refund was mailed too? Yup, the old address. And other towns are going to buy services from them? There's a resolution on the docket for tonight's meeting that calls for cutting the debt by twice the amount of any new spending. This will be fun to present to the council the moment they decide to spend. And judging from their history, they'll make Fried and crew and look like Scrooge.
Crafty Spiker July 17, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Is anyone surprised by this? If so, shame on you for failing to be an informed citizen and VOTER. It's going to be a wonderful 4 years - I hope all you taxpaying folks are ready to play some intense defense.
Jim July 18, 2012 at 04:52 PM
How much did the tax rate go up in Montclair, from ? to 3.252%.....I live in Howell, and our assessments went down and tax rate up 25% to balance revenue. We had a huge townhall last night. Senior development saw 35% increase in net taxes. People are starting to wake-up, But I think that most are not going to get active....just too complicated, time-consuming, and the system is stacked against us. It will have to break before real change comes, unless a leader can step up to end the ridiculousness.
montclairgurl July 18, 2012 at 06:07 PM
The tax rate is now about the same as a mortgage.
Stuart Weissman July 19, 2012 at 02:53 PM
My wife and I looked at other tax rates around Essex County. The only towns with higher rates are more urban than Montclair. Think Irvington, Newark, East Orange, etc. The Essex Fells and Caldwells and Cedar Groves are significantly lower. The only other town with a similar demographic to Montclair and similarly high taxes is West Orange. Though, one could argue that Montclair has significantly more commercial ratables than West Orange. Part of the equation is the average value of the average domicile in each of these towns. The towns where the average household is valued less, tend to have higher tax rates in most cases. This is where I think Montclair is unique. In 2009, Montclair's average home value was around 583K, while West Orange's was 402K. So why does Montclair buck the trend? http://www.state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/pdf/lpt/gtr11essex.pdf
Montclair Public July 19, 2012 at 03:43 PM
It's surprising to me that so many here are now expressing shock at the rise in their taxes. When the results of the reassessment were announced, the town manager stated on numerous occasions and it was reported here and in the Montclair Times that the average decline in home value would be near 20%. If you came in above that you were going to be taxed higher, and I am guessing a healthy percentage of those properties belonged to folks who had successfully appealed in the past. It was also logical that the tax rate would have to rise to compensate for the overall reduction in assessed home value. FYI: while i agree with Mr. Shor and Mr. Simon that our taxes are a fair price to pay for the kind of suburban town and cultural experience Montclair provides to raise a family in, it is long past time to get control of the debt as well (not necessarily by declaring war on public employees, but negotiating respectively and realistically) and, yes, giving the new mayor a chance to grow revenues. the notion that we are going to dramatically cut teacher salaries and benefits and maintain the school system is delusional.
Montclair Public July 19, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Millburn and Short Hills, ugh.
A. Gideon July 19, 2012 at 07:56 PM
"The towns where the average household is valued less, tend to have higher tax rates in most cases." Very roughly speaking, doesn't this make sense? The activities involved in running a town - schools, roads, sanitation, etc. - are the same whether the properties in a town are more or less valuable. This is one of the reasons why I think local property taxes are problematic in general as an income source. ...Andrew
Dentss Dunnagun January 20, 2013 at 03:30 PM
Actually you can do something other than appeal ....tell the town of your intent to appeal ,and stop paying taxes ,set up an escrow tax account ,deposit the tax money into the account every 1/4 tell the town the account number just so they can't try to sell you home on a tax lien .Your protected as well as well as is the towns money ...problem is they can't access the money to spend .If enough people did this it would starve the BEAST


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