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Property Revaluation Looming for Princetons

Matthew Hersh

With the average property tax bill in the Princetons increasing by roughly 50 percent between 2000 and 2005, residents could be facing another significant increase —  this time not by way local, county, or school district levies, but slightly more formidable: property revaluation.

Following a 2006 county directive, both Princeton Borough and Princeton Township are gearing up for an anticipated revaluation. Township Committee last week introduced an ordinance that would approve a contract with an outside assessor, with Borough Council slated to introduce a mirror ordinance at its next regular meeting, slated for February 26. Passage of these ordinances would put into motion a full reassessment that would affect house values in 2009 and beyond. The last municipal revaluation came in 1996.

Neil Snyder, the municipal tax assessor in both the Borough and Township, has assembled bid documents that would go out for the joint municipal hiring of an outside firm. The revaluation would be completed in 2008, to go into effect next year. As of October 1, 2007, the overall ratio of assessed value in the Princetons was 47.45 percent. When Committee introduced their half of the contract bid ordinance, Township attorney Edwin Schmierer said that the goal of the revaluation is to realign that ratio so market value equals assessed value.

If the Borough and Township pass their ordinances, Mr. Snyder, along with Township CFO Kathie Monzo, and Borough CFO Sandra Webb, would produce a report that would enable the municipalities to digest how much financing will be made available to spend for the revaluation. “We’ll get a sense of that later as we put the bid documents together,” Mr. Schmierer said. “This is the first official step to authorize revaluation for 2009.”

During the 2007 budget cycle, the average Princeton Township house was valued at $427,900, with the average Borough house valued at roughly $350,000. Those values are expected to rise considerably following revaluation.

Passage of the assessment ordinance by the municipalities does not, however, limit the towns in how they can fund the program, Ms. Monzo said. In introducing its half of the ordinance, the Township agreed in principle to fund the study through special emergency notes, which would be paid over five years. However, Committee can decide to fund the program in other ways. “This is really just putting that option in place,” Ms. Monzo said. “Once we get back in some bid proposals and we know how much this is going to cost, then we’ll come back to Committee with a resolution and recommendation as to how the study can be funded,” she added.

Township administrator James Pascale said bids are due by March 12. The result would be a single contract between the two municipalities, Mr. Pascale added.

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