Hoboken Property Taxes “Revaluated” – Now what?

Hoboken Property Tax Revaluation 2014 NJ Hudson CountyProperty taxes, and taxes in general, has always been and will forever be a source of contention in this world. Just, or unjust. Fair, or unfair. Necessary, or unnecessary. We could debate it until we’re all blue in the face. Do we accept status quo? Or challenge the concept entirely? Is it even possible to get the public on the same page for this exceedingly complicated facet of society?

Either way – Hoboken recently went through this big “revaluation” of properties in town. As you can see from the Excel spreadsheet below – the total “assessed” value of properties in town rose dramatically over 350% from over $3 billion dollars to nearly $11 billion dollars. However, that doesn’t mean that your property taxes are increasing by that amount, because the estimated tax rate will be adjusted accordingly provided there is no “tax increase.”

The assessment model was switched to “fair market value.”

Play around with the numbers (in the red boxes) if you wish…

Are market value property taxes even “fair” in Hoboken?

Here’s a simple example of how “FMV” property taxes are absolutely flawed:

Take John, who saved his money and lived within his means. He was able to buy a luxury 2 Bed 2 Bath condo at Maxwell Place assessed at $1.5 million. His new 2014 tax rate will be slightly over $20,000 per year.

Then, take Katie and Susie, the lesbian couple with an adopted child “Odin” in the Hoboken public school system. They also have a 2 Bed 2 Bath condo with the exact same square footage in a lesser neighborhood on the west side of town. Their assessment is only $400,000 – and their tax rate is just over $5,000 per year.

Kate, Susie and Odin use much more of the city than John. They leave diapers in the playgrounds, use the toilets much more, and even get the Hoboken Fire Department to rush to their apartment twice a year as Odin was so “cute” when he learned how to dial 911 on the phone. Why should John pay nearly four times as much?

Always someone with the short end of the stick.

Alternative property taxes?

For the sake of argument, let’s say we absolutely need property taxes – they’re a necessity. Are there fairer methodologies?

  • Underlying Land Value – If we keep the tax strictly to the value of the land – this will promote owners to improve their properties. Now in Hoboken, someone will be apprehensive to make improvements – because they will fear their property taxes will go up too! This could result in degenerating neighborhoods.
  • Income generating properties only – If your land or property produces income, the city (and/or County) can levy a small tax on that. Maybe if the local governments can keep the costs of their programs within the tax revenues produced – it’d be like everyone else who has to “live within their means.” Like for instance, why does the Mayor need an “aide” anyway?
  • A la Carte services? – In my example above, why does John have to pay for our low-ranked school system with no kids? What about parents who send kids to private schools?

In the end – I think this “fair market value” system will turn out to be a disaster. Especially since it’s tied to a VERY unstable and fluctuating Real Estate market. What will happen later in 2014 when another bubble bursts? It’s going to be a logistical NIGHTMARE for city hall. Good luck with that!

Fair Housing meeting in Hoboken – August 15, 2013

This week, the Hoboken Fair Housing Association is holding an “urgent” meeting regarding the Property Reval that is currently going on. If you believe the current Hoboken property revaluation is in any way corrupt, politically motivated or controlled, or just plain “fishy,” this event is for you. Read their letter below, and mark you calendars for Thursday, August 15th from 7pm to 9pm.

Hoboken Reval Meeting corruption property taxes August 15 HFHA

Urgent matters regarding Hoboken Property Revaluation

Dear Friends of HFHA: As the flyer attached indicates, an important HFHA meeting is coming up on August 15th.

The meeting will take place at the Community Church at the corner of 6th & Garden Streets. Hoboken Fair Housing Association invites all local residents, officials, and press to attend.

There will be a number of urgent topics under discussion.

First off, tenants and homeowners alike need to know about the property revaluation being done in Hoboken right now by Appraisal Systems Inc.

This revaluation, which is currently taking place over several weeks, could potentially overvalue smaller homes and rental buildings, resulting in inflated taxes on these properties and thus force their sale.

poor residents after Hoboken revalMany small landlords, small owners and tenants of 1-4 unit and larger buildings will be pushed out of their homes if appraisers deviate from valuing buildings based on their actual rent-roll incomes, or if buildings are valued based on what “could” be if those buildings were torn down to make way for larger ones, instead of valuations based on the buildings currently in place.

And ASI has already stated at a public presentation that their method consists of valuing properties at their maximum “market value,” which is entirely speculative.

And, can you spell conflict-of-interest? ASI’s president was the tax assessor for Mountain Lakes, NJ while MSTA’s attorney was mayor of that town for eight years.

MSTA is the local developer/real-estate lobbying group that has frequently sued, and continues to sue, the city of Hoboken over its longstanding rental protections.

MSTA’s attorney unsuccessfully sued the city for over a million dollars worth of attorney’s fees for a previous class-action suit against the city that attempted to weaken Hoboken’s tenant protections. That suit was also unsuccessful.

And it is MSTA, of course, that is behind the stealing of the November 2012 rent-control election results — the attempt to usurp in the courtroom what they lost at the polls.

Learn what you can do to stand up for your rights against large real-estate interests who want to see rent-controlled tenants and smaller, older homes gone. Real-estate interests who, in an effort to destroy any trace of historic Hoboken, want to replace older homes with high-density condos accessible only to the very wealthy.

Homeowners in Princeton are standing up for their rights, and Hoboken can do the same. An important lawsuit has been brought in Princeton against ASI by a determined citizens / homeowner’s group. And Princeton is not the only town taking action against unfair property revaluations.

ASI has effectively acted as a reverse-Robin-Hood in Princeton, raising taxes disproportionately on small homeowners and lowering them for McMansions.

The video below by Jim Firestone in Princeton explains the manner in which ASI conducted its revaluation there. And the numbers here display ASI’s unfair, distorted taxing scheme in black & white.

According to a commenter here (scroll down to the last commenter): “…the largest reduction of all, 40%, went to Scott Siprelle a member of the Reevaluation Advisory Commmittee who got his Hodge Rd house reevaluated as part of the Cleveland Lane neighborhood.”


Particularly, Hoboken’s small homewoners need to organize around this issue — and they could do well to take a cue from the Princeton group.

Also at the August 15 meeting, we’ll provide an update on our legal appeal of the stealing of the November 2012 rent-control election results.

Attorney Renee Steinhagan of the New Jersey Appleseed Public Interest Law Center will provide details and bring us up to date on the action. You can read her absolutely first-rate brief (PDF) that was submitted to the appeals panel of judges who will be deciding the case.

We’ll also be hearing at the meeting from the heroic Matt Shapiro, president of NJTO. Matt will give us an overview of the housing crisis taking place throughout the state, and will offer guidance as to how to proceed in Hoboken.

HFHA stalwart and rent-levelling board member Cheryl Fallick will update us on the changing condo-rental regulations that may be about to happen, and what we can do about it.

This will also be a MEMBERSHIP DRIVE meeting for folks who are not currently HFHA members, and a time to renew expiring memberships. WE NEED YOU. Please plan on attending the meeting, and consider bringing at least ONE FRIEND WHO IS AFFECTED BY RENT-CONTROL OR THE PROPERTY REVALUATION.

And that’s pretty much everyone in town, isn’t it?

Hoboken reval meeting tonight

5/9/2013 Update:

Talk about a political football. The Hoboken reval (revaluation of properties for taxation purposes) has been kicked around so long – the city is now over two decades overdue. And tonight, the city is holding a special “council meeting” over at the Hoboken High School auditorium at 7pm.

Appraisal Systems was hired by the city to be the company to perform said “revaluations.” Whether they are truly objective – or figure out a way to subjectively “adjust” the values in Hoboken in favor of what Mayor Dawn Zimmer and her cronies want remains to be seen. How transparent, fair and honest this process will be could quite possibly be a mystery unless you’re a fly on the wall of the secret back room.

However – one Hoboken resident shines a little more light on the shenanigans at city hall…

Hoboken reval property tax meeting

Letter: Hoboken reval another Zimmer pie in the sky

“In 2009, Dawn promised Hoboken Revolt that the reval would be done right away. But she didn’t take action on the tax maps for over two years into her term.

Now four years later she’s finally holding a public meeting to talk about the reval?

A few thousand yuppies voted for her based solely on her promise for a reval. They were so sure that she would bring their property taxes down. I’m sure they feel duped despite all the good news spewing out of her spin department.

The property tax revaluation is right up there with her flood protection sea walls and six acre park in the southwest.

It’s all pie in the sky. She’ll promise any kind of pie to get elected.”

Isn’t it interesting how politicians strive to “schedule” their real world civic obligations according to election timetables?