Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 36
 
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

Prudential Fox and Roach, Realtors

Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate

Henderson Sotheby's International Realty

N.T. Callaway Princeton Office

Stockton Real Estate, LLC

Weichert, Realtors



Advertise in Town Topics

Iris Interiors


Advertise in Town Topics

Weather Forecast


Mailbox

Township Reviewing Assessment Options, Revaluation Task Force To Be Discussed

Liz Lempert
Meadowbrook Drive

Account of Home Assessment Appeal Faults Mercer Taxation Board and A.I.S.

John Boyd
Cherry Hill Road

ASI Assessment Criterion Neglected to Note Historic District Restriction

Lucille B. Gaignault
Bank Street

Demolition of Valley Road Building Would Displace Community Services

Sandra J. Bierman
Grover Avenue

Thanks to All Those Supporting End of the Summer Block Party

Cynthia Mendez
Executive Director, Princeton Human Services
Scott Parsons
Executive Director, Princeton Housing Authority


Township Reviewing Assessment Options, Revaluation Task Force To Be Discussed

To the Editor:

The shocking results of the revaluation have made this a challenging time for our community. Township Committee’s ability to address the situation is limited by strong state regulations that were put in place to prevent local elected officials from influencing tax assessments. Having said this, I joined Township Committee to help Princeton become sustainable and to keep our town vibrant and diverse — values now threatened by this revaluation. I am committed to doing everything in my legal power to ensure assessments are accurate and fair and to provide relief to those hardest hit. At our next meeting, Township Committee will review two possible options for changing the way assessments are conducted, to guard against some of the huge increases we saw as a result of the current revaluation. In the meantime, I, along with some of my colleagues on Township Committee and Borough Council, have met with our state legislators and recommended changing laws to provide us with more flexibility to help those who are most vulnerable.

Concerned citizens have raised serious questions about ASI’s methodology that deserve to be answered. I share these concerns and I will continue to push for answers. I also advocate forming a revaluation tax force to look at possible changes at the local, county and state level. The purpose of the tax force would be to generate ideas on what can be done to assist those who are most negatively impacted and on how to conduct reassessments going forward to best ensure accuracy. I invite you to share your ideas for solutions. I can be reached at 924-5704 ext 1623 or llempert@princeton-township.nj.us. By working together we can find a way to bring fairness to this process.

Liz Lempert
Meadowbrook Drive

Account of Home Assessment Appeal Faults Mercer Taxation Board and A.I.S.

To the Editor:

Recently I had my first appeal process before the Mercer County Board of Taxation in Trenton. To prepare for my hearing I contacted the appraisal company and asked them how they arrived at my home’s assessment and they informed me that they had considered three comparables, which I could find on their website. In downloading this information to work on my appeal, I found one of the homes to be in no way comparable with mine. In my written appeal I said that they should have used another home two doors away that was more like mine. I sent in this information, which triggered my in person appeal this morning.

There were three people representing the Taxation Board (of a total of five members or commissioners), myself, and three representatives from Appraisal Systems, Inc. I was given the chance to offer reasons why my assessment was wrong, which I attempted to do by way of the mistake I thought the appraisal company had made, using the wrong home in its analysis. During my presentation, one of the three Taxation Board Members left the room, not returning until my hearing was concluded.

After much discussion about which homes the appraisal company used for their decision, and after the company tried to use two new, completely different homes to bolster their claims, I was informed that only one home (one of the original three) was now going to be used for comparison purposes. When they did not respond when I asked if the same formulas were used on this house and on mine and what were the amounts they attributed to the land and the improvements. Indeed, a member of the Board told me that I should have brought that information with me. When I pointed out that this information was not available to the public, he changed the subject. The Board did not question the appraisal company about any of its work. The appraisal company did not explain its work, offering only the one house as comparable to mine. I objected to this change since this was not what I had been told was the process used by A.I.S., which was what I had prepared my defense on. I was told that the board was now going to consider only the one home presented by the appraisal company and that I would hear their decision within two weeks time.

To say I feel like I was set up is a gross understatement. It is unacceptable for A.I.S. to change its procedures after the fact and for the County Board of Taxation to rely on this altered process to determine the fate of my appeal.

I have just received by mail the decision of the Board (signed by all 5 members, although only two heard my appeal), and it’s no surprise that they have decided unanimously, that my original assessment will stand. The appeal process will continue.

John Boyd
Cherry Hill Road

ASI Assessment Criterion Neglected to Note Historic District Restrictions

To the Editor:

Article 1 of Carol Morrison’s letter (Town Topics September 1) contains a revelatory item: “...consultants at ASI...told me that one criterion they used in their process was ‘what could be built on the land.’ ” But Bank Street is a Historic District, so if my house burns down tomorrow, no McMansion can replace it, only another modest (1870) Victorian house. ASI obviously knows nothing about the restrictions in a Historic District; their assessment of my 40’ x 60’ lot rose from $9,500 to $365,000.

The appeals process is so labyrinthine as to be unfeasible; there is not one property equivalent to mine, let alone three; and, as Ms. Morrison writes, why can’t we separate land valuation complaints from house valuation complaints? ASI was obviously a poor choice for this job. Is no class action possible?

Lucille B. Gaignault
Bank Street

Demolition of Valley Road Building Would Displace Community Services

To the Editor:

I am a long time Princeton resident and currently co-host a show on Princeton Community Television Channel 30 that is delivered in Spanish to the Princeton Hispanic population, many of whom are recent immigrants, as well as to many who are already an important part of our community. Our mission is to educate and assist all Princeton residents, and to help with the cultural assimilation of those who are not completely familiar with our community and what it offers. Channel 30 is housed in the Valley Road Building. Recent talks about demolishing the building are concern not only to Princeton Community Television but to other Princeton non-profit organizations such as Corner House and Princeton Young Achievers, which are also currently housed in this structure. The renovation and improvement of the building to meet current standards and to be used more efficiently is achievable and desirable, and could be done in a manner that would allow the continued operation of the organizations that are already there, while making possible the gradual addition of others in a modern Princeton center for non-profit services.

Sandra J. Bierman
Grover Avenue

Thanks to All Those Supporting End of the Summer Block Party

To the Editor:

On Sunday, August 23, Princeton Human Services and the Princeton Housing Authority sponsored an “End of the Summer Block Party” on Clay Street. Despite the inclement weather, we had a great turnout and everyone had a fun-filled afternoon with music, food and youth-oriented activities.

We would like to thank all of those that helped to make this event a success: Princeton Human Services Commissioners; Princeton Housing Authority; Princeton Borough Police Department; Committed Princetonians, the Faithful Princetonians; Princeton Tennis Program; Princeton Recreation Department; Princeton Public Library; LALDEF; Princeton Arts Council, YWCA Princeton; Princeton YMCA; Wegmans Supermarket; DJ Kevy Kev and the Crew; the residents of Clay Street and all the volunteers that helped to get the word out, set up, cooked, got dunked, and cleaned up. We could not have done this without your assistance and support. A heartfelt thank you!!

Cynthia Mendez
Executive Director, Princeton Human Services
Scott Parsons
Executive Director, Princeton Housing Authority

For information on how to submit Letters to the Editor, click here.

Return to Top | Go to Obituaries


Town Topics® may be purchased on Wednesday mornings at the following locations: Princeton — McCaffrey’s, Cox’s, Kiosk (Palmer Square), Krauszer’s (State Road), Olives, Speedy Mart (State Road), Wawa (University Place); Hopewell — Village Express; Rocky Hill — Wawa (Route 518); Pennington — Pennington Market.
Copyright© Town Topics®, Inc. 2011.