Last week, Guttenberg residents expressed concerns over an apparent increase in property taxes for the third and fourth financial quarters. The change occurred not due to an increase in tax rates, but because the value of all homes in Guttenberg was reassessed in a townwide revaluation conducted last December.
In a “reval,” each property in a town is re-assessed to determine its value in the current market. Inspectors check each home for five to 10 minutes to determine its worth by examining both the exterior and the interior, as well as amenities such as fireplaces and central air conditioning.
“The whole point of it was trying to even it out so everybody was paying their fair share.” – Mayor Gerald Drasheff
Homes that have not been checked in 15 years will often have a higher market value today than 15 years ago. However, a newer home purchased a few years ago may have a lower market value now because home prices have fallen during the recession.
Thus, owners of older homes may have seen their taxes rise more than new homeowners.
First in 15 years
During the public portion of a crowded council meeting on Aug. 22 in Guttenberg Town Hall, town officials explained the revaluation.
“The idea is that everyone is supposed to pay a fair share of taxes based on their property values,” said Mayor Gerald Drasheff. “The whole point of it was trying to even it out so everybody was paying their fair share.”
In response to a resident’s complaint that his taxes had increased $1,300 within the last two quarters of the year, Drasheff said, “More than half of the people in the town actually saw their taxes go down. If you increased more than 7 or 8 percent it’s because your property was not valued correctly.”
Drasheff said that the results of the reval need to be collected within the last half of the year. “Now that everything has been brought up to the same level, you should not see those kinds of increases in future years,” he added.
Drasheff indicated that any concerned residents can set up a meeting in Town Hall to discuss their taxes privately.
Hudson County Sheriff’s Office honored
Mayor Drasheff and the Town Council, along with Mayor Nicholas Sacco of North Bergen, set aside a portion of the meeting to honor members of the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office with a plaque commemorating their dedication and service to Hudson County.
The Sheriff’s Office helps municipalities with patrolling the streets and is often called upon to assist in investigations.
“I am honored to accept this on behalf of the very dedicated men and women of the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office,” said Sheriff Frank Schillari.
“This is something that had been missing before Frank Schillari,” said Sacco, referring to collaborative patrols between the towns and the county. “Frank and his staff have really put this together.”
Sacco said such collaboration is integral in keeping the peace while local police stations are shrinking with the economy.
Sacco added, “I feel very much protected.”
“You’re only as good as the people that work for you,” said Schillari, “and my officers are out there day and night protecting the people of Hudson County and we take a special interest in all municipalities.”
Recognizing the athletes
Besides honoring local law enforcement, the council set aside time to recognize the Guttenberg athletes and coaches who have been inducted into the Hudson County Hall of Fame over the years.
The inductees in attendance included volleyball coach Maria Nolan, track and field standout Brian Guaschino, softball pitcher Carol Cook, basketball athlete Joe Forenza, and football star Ted Klaube.
“We’re proud to call them fellow residents,” said Drasheff, who honored each inductee with a plaque.
Each honoree had a few words to say to the members of the Girls Softball Traveling Team, who were also called up front and recognized with certificates after ending their latest season by competing with North Bergen in the “Mayor’s Bowl.”
“If there’s any town that’s as crazy or more crazy about sports, it’s them,” said Drasheff, before calling up Mayor Sacco to speak.
“It was a real pleasure to be at that game,” said Sacco in reference to the “Mayor’s Bowl.”
“There are wonderful opportunities for you right now girls,” said Nolan. “Stay involved, even as you go through your high school careers and after, because we need young women that know the game.”
“I would like to commend the mayor and town council for what they do for the young athletes of our town,” said Forenza.
During the meeting, the town adopted ordinances to add two handicapped parking spaces on 69th Street and 71st Street, and also adopted an ordinance to renew 16 loading zones for local businesses.
Drasheff also announced that the town will be holding its annual 9/11 memorial ceremony at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 11 outside Town Hall.
Stephen LaMarca may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.