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New Hopatcong Home Assessments Take Effect in August

Hopatcong residents can discuss new property values with company reps after first revaluation in five years.

Hopatcong residents have been mailed notices of their new property value assessments, which take effect in August, borough Administrator Robert Elia said.

Hopatcong Council voted last year to conduct a full revaluation of all properties in the borough.

While a revaluation was done in 2007, the soft housing market since 2008 created a situation where assessed values of properties are not aligned with the market value, resulting in a sharp increase in tax appeals.

Records show that Hopatcong's total assessed property value fell from $2.037 billion in 2011 to $1.996 billion in 2012.

The borough has 360 tax appeals pending, tax assessor Therese DePierro reported last year.

The owner of a home assessed at the borough average of $313,894 paid $6,524 in taxes in 2011, records show.

Elia said Appraisal Systems, the company that conducted the revaluation will begin holding meetings at the municipal complex to meet with residents about the new value of their properties.

The notice sent by the company detailing the new assessments contained the phone number that residents can call to schedule an appointment, he said.

The company will have representatives on hand beginning Wednesday, Feb. 13, Elia said.

They will hold sessions between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The new assessed values take effect in August, he said.

Terry Bond February 15, 2013 at 04:46 PM
Jeff G. I totally agree that the people who appealed there taxes are what got us into this mess. You are right that as long as everyone was reassessed at the same time, the taxes were spread out evenly, and the fact that your house value may have dropped didn't matter. People just don't get that. BUT, I never appealed my taxes and now with the lower value, but higher tax rate, my taxes will be going up considerably!! The assessment company has changed the tax rate they had listed yesterday, which would have caused my taxes to go up $3600. With the new rate, they are still going up $2600, and they make a point of saying that's without a budget increase, so it will be more. How can that possibly be fair? I've owed my house for 30 years. The house size has been the same since 1992. My taxes have never changed that much in one year.
The Watcher February 15, 2013 at 04:48 PM
So why pay the town lawyer and an appraisal company during 2012 tens of thousands of dollars to fight assessments last year when they knew the housing market had deflated? Why wait until the county MADE them to the re assessment? As I said the town lawyer (that the taxpayers pay) gets paid to fight the appeals. As usual the taxpayers pay ....pay.... pay.....
Jeff G. February 15, 2013 at 05:40 PM
I'd guess that they weren't expecting so many people to appeal. It's quite expensive to redo the entire town as we all can see. Terry when they did the reassessment in 2008 mine went up 20.8 % because my house wasn't properly valued compared to everyone else. The guy right next door to me that had pretty much an identical house was paying over 1,000 dollars a year more than me. It is of course entirely possible that they just did you house wrong this time and I totally would setup an appointment to find out how the heck they came up with that value. Since mine isn't going up I'm not bothered. I would gather that anyone that has a house near the lake is going to get pummeled by this reassessment. Reason being that anyone near the lake didn't have their value decrease as much as someone in the middle of the town. It's crappy, but hey at least most of those people might have the option to sell. I'll probably have to wait 10 years before I can break even. lol
Terry Bond February 15, 2013 at 09:02 PM
But Jeff G, I don't want to sell my house. My family built the original house back in the 1950's. I've spent every summer of my life here and lived here year round since the 1970's. No one but my family has ever lived in this house. To me it's not a piece of real estate to be bought and sold. It's my family's home.
Jeff G. February 15, 2013 at 09:21 PM
Completely understand, but I don't see how the people close to the lake aren't going to get hosed. The value of the houses is always going to stay higher than the rest of the town. Especially with how the lots are setup. There's not much you can do to improve on the houses when they are crammed on a tiny plot in weird configurations.
Jane Doe February 15, 2013 at 10:26 PM
Got the letter, in essence my house is worth $170k less but I will be paying $1200 more this year due to the 3% tax rate for this year. A 16% increase, and that's if there's no budget increase. Why do taxes just keep going up in a town that is obviously going down the tubes? School system is one of the worst in the state, where is my money going? Who would want to buy a house here? Wasn't there a 2% cap across NJ? I would love to join a Hopatcong citizen action commitee to take a look at the budget and see where all this money is being spent.
Clay Thomas February 15, 2013 at 11:30 PM
You would think with a no-vote, guaranteed (by recent state law) 2% increase in the school budget, programs could be retuned that would improve and make the school system more attractive but the word on the "educational" street is that Hopatcong's state funding will be cut by at least $1,000,000 for the '13-'14 school year. With enrollment declining because, in part, school choice has made Lenape Valley, and next year Sparta, more educationally attractive and viable alternatives, the future is uncertain. (School) taxes will go up 2%, less will be offered to fewer students, not a good forecast.
Concerned resident February 15, 2013 at 11:44 PM
Clay - Do you have any type of confirmation on Sparta becoming choice? Nothing on NJ DoE website that included the announcement of the new schools approved for next year & nothing on Sparta website. would love for my kids to go there...
Clay Thomas February 16, 2013 at 12:45 AM
I can assure you that this information is accurate and came from a source within the Sparta School system. All the appropriate paperwork has been submitted. How long NJDOE takes to act is certainly another question but Sparta expects to be accepting students for the 2013-2014 school year. A call to the Sparta BOE Offices will confirm.
Concerned resident February 16, 2013 at 11:50 AM
Clay - GREAT information!! I had heard the rumors, but just kept checking the sites for the past 2 months... I will call on Tuesday. Thank you for sharing.
rn February 16, 2013 at 10:18 PM
Wake up people, everyone in the Borough is getting shafted. They have devaluated our properties to the point where we can no longer file a tax appeal because they are all below market value now. This was just a ploy to quell what might have turned into a town wide property tax revolt. The powers that be are still spending our money like drunken sailors, fancy street lighting on Hopatchung, yes it looks nice but even if it was paid for with a grant couldn't the money have been spent more wisely and keep in mind we will have to pay for repairs, maintenance and the electric bill forever. Same goes for the lighting and landscaping at the 911 memorial behind the Municipal building and the fancy electronic bulletin board at the municipal building, I could go on but the list would never end. There is one thing I'd like to see the Mayor and Council rationalize: the one inch thick bullet proof glass in the Tax Collectors office, really, the banks in our area aren't that well fortified nor do they need to be. There is one thing that we all seem to forget, the Mayor and Council, who ever they may be at any given point in time are not the Borough of Hopatcong, WE ARE, do I have to say it any louder. If we keep voting people into the office that have a mind set that is not in sync with US we are getting everything we deserve and more.
The Watcher February 16, 2013 at 10:30 PM
@rn over 83 thousand of tax dollars was spent on the streetlights and now that the mayor and council/ family and friends have taken over the commissions and committees......... well let's just say I agree with you.
BeachBum February 16, 2013 at 11:00 PM
Sparta school system will be enrolling students from Hopatcong next year, how many students usually are permitted to be enrolled? This will be a great option for students rather than the Hopatcong school system only option
Clay Thomas February 16, 2013 at 11:19 PM
My understanding of the "Choice Law" allows the "sending" district to set a limit on the number of students but that limit must be reasonable and can be appealed to NJDOE. Parents of choice students receive a transportation stipend which I believe is $800.
Concerned resident February 17, 2013 at 12:35 AM
Also - my understanding is that it is up to 10% of the receiving schools enrollment - depending on the availability. The problem with Sparta is that the 10% will be spread over numerous towns, if they even have the space for that many kids. My thought is that it will go into a lottery system, much like Lenape.
Clay Thomas February 17, 2013 at 01:23 AM
Based on the facts that Sparta has approached the NJDOE to become a choice school district and had completed an enormous addition to their high school just a few years ago, it seems they have the capacity to accept a substantial number of choice students. Hopatcong may eventually revert to a K-8 district!
Concerned resident February 17, 2013 at 01:36 AM
One can hope and dream, Clay! Hopatcong k-8 & Sparta High would be awesome for this town.
Just4myboys February 17, 2013 at 12:18 PM
I dont understand how they can do a full assesment when they didnt even come INTO my house! Last time they actually came into my house to do the assesment...So how can they actually do a reasonable one?? Now according to them, my property is now worth $100k less! Let's see how this is going to effect my taxes
BeachBum February 17, 2013 at 01:25 PM
Just like Lafayette K-8 district
BeachBum February 17, 2013 at 01:27 PM
Keep after them, your taxes should go down - Worse case scenario you go to court to fight the tax rate
Observer February 17, 2013 at 03:57 PM
I hate to burst anybody’s bubble but the real, hard truth is the amount of real estate taxes you will be paying, beginning with the August tax bill, will NOT be going down. You might think that your newly reduced assessed valuation might predict lower taxes but that is simply not correct. The total tax levy for the town will only be going up thus the tax rate will be increased. If for some unexplained reason your taxes remain the same, keep your mouth shut!
The Watcher February 17, 2013 at 11:56 PM
@ Observer apparently next council meeting there is a motion is in order to adopt a resolution approving of the hiring of Stephen Millian for a full time position for the DPW. Hiring of Full Time Staff Member for DPW and Administration.A motion is in order to adopt a resolution approving of the hiring of Christy Rehe for a full time position for the DPW and Administration. With full benefits guess that means an increase in the budget and our taxes.
Observer February 18, 2013 at 01:15 AM
Yes, and remember the BOE is guaranteed a 2% increase without a vote! All those years the BOE budget was voted down and reductions were made, not so anymore. If the BOE budget does not exceed a 2% increase, it's good to go! How can this Governor ever claim he's held the line against property tax increases? What a fraud!
Kenny February 18, 2013 at 05:34 AM
I would like to know, when did these people come around doing the assessments? I never saw these people. Did they just drive by real quick, or just sit in the office looking up properties on one of the sites and makes some type of adjustment???
Frazure February 18, 2013 at 01:02 PM
At least in my case, they showed up unannounced while I was at home and asked if they could come in. I gave them the nickel tour and they were gone within 5 minutes. In the case of any neighbors that were not home, they did a simple "drive-by".
Concerned resident February 19, 2013 at 03:03 PM
Unfortunately, Clay - Called the Sparta BOE today - and spoke to 'Cindy' - in the Superintendents office. Sparta is NOT approved for 2013/2014 - AND they are not approved for 2014/2015 (yet?). Hoping she is incorrect, but I doubt it.
Clay Thomas February 19, 2013 at 03:43 PM
Sorry CR, I guess my source "jumped the gun" on the start date. I'm absolutely positive that application process has been started, since the person I'm referring to had an active role in the process. I guess they can't say anything official until the approval is in their hands! It's going to happen and maybe 2013-2014 is more realistic. So long HHS!
Clay Thomas February 19, 2013 at 03:45 PM
My error in my previous post, I intended to indicate at state date of 2014-2015 school year
Concerned resident February 19, 2013 at 03:50 PM
That is what she said.... process has started for 2014/2015... I'll take it whenever, and pray that my kids get in! Thanks for the updates, and ending the rumors!
The Watcher February 19, 2013 at 04:37 PM
@Concerned taxes are already going up 2% for the schools the 4% mandate has many loopholes that can (and will) raise taxes even more. Why are we hiring full time people and paying benefits when most other companies are hiring two part timers with no benefits? Can we afford this right now? At least one of the people getting hired full time already has family working for the town. We are still doing the family affair thing and we can't afford it.

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