Reassessment Moves Forward, Despite Opposition

Homeowners argue with governing body as $300K set aside for process.

The Borough Council passed Tuesday an ordinance authorizing $300,000 for a  boroughwide reassessment of homes and businesses.

The vote took place after Mayor Sylvia Petillo twice ended a public comment period of the meeting when residents were speaking out of order and debating with council members.

Borough Attorney John Ursin explained that the Sussex County tax board informed the borough last year that because of falling market values for homes, the town’s ratio of market values to assessed values had reached 114 percent, which in the past three years triggered a landslide of tax appeals filed by homeowners and businesses.

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

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

Ursin said last year the borough asked if it could perform a partial reassessment because certain neighborhoods were more affected than others. Ursin said the county tax board turned down the request and ordered a full reassessment.

The borough had done a full revaluation in  2007, Petillo said, but because it was done at the peak of the real estate market, and the economy faltered shortly after, property values were set too high, triggering the current reassessment.

Ursin said the $300,000 cost for the reassessment will help the borough potentially avoid $150,000 or more costs annually for the next couple of years to respond to tax appeals. That potential cost would be added to what the borough has already spent on more than 500 appeals in the past three years, he said.

Resident Bill Levick asked why “it took so long” for the council to act on the falling home values.

Ursin said the board was informed of the situation in January and it took this long to create a plan of action.

Resident Joe Bonjourno said he understood the process was a “zero-sum game,” meaning that if the assessments drop, the tax rate would rise but a homeowner’s property taxes would remain roughly the same.

Petillo said that was correct.

“We don’t raise any more money by the reassessment. Our budget is still $15 million,” she said  “What could change is you share of that figure.”

Early in the discussion, residents Michelle Guttenberger and Randy Paulenich, tried to assert that the council was favoring large property owners over residential properties. Guttenberger, and then Paulenich presented the council with documents that they claimed showed that Hudson Farms was receiving favorable tax treatment.

“You are asking the taxpayers to make up for the lost ratables,” Guttenberger said.

Borough Administrator Robert Elia said Hudson Farms pays about $100,000 annually in property taxes. The majority of the property is assessed as farmland, a designation set by the state.

Paulenich again claimed the borough had $60 million in debt, but Petillo said that most of that money was borrowed by the water and sewer utility and unless a home was connected to public water and public sewer, that homeowner did not pay for that debt.

Elia said the borough has about $10 million in long-term debt, which is 14 percent of its borrowing limit of $70 million, which is set by the state.

The borough has a AA stable credit rating set by national rating services, which a top rating, Elia said.

He said the borough refinanced $14 million of old debt this year and received an interest rate of .39 percent.

The Watcher August 28, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Tammy thanks to posters like John Pezzino (aka RBOT real bad on truth etc), and their childish behavior Patch is apparently now limiting access. That is unfortunate for everyone. Some of the things that make this country great is our right to disagree and our freedom of speech. What people sometimes forget is that freedom of speech does not give you the right to defame or impersonate others. This fiasco was unfortunate, and many of the comments probably should be taken down, but let us hope that something positive will come of it.
Michele Guttenberger August 29, 2012 at 01:36 AM
Tammy & My Civil Friends on Patch Your are always welcome to post a comment on my Blog post. I have had civil descussion with people who have a diffrent view point than me. The lastest one was on the 19 Amendment and the Women's Right to vote. I welcome comments on your thoughts on Civil and Constitutional rights that are disappearing today. Or maybe you DON'T feel this way and want to express that too. All I ask is that you respect the blogger and no character attacks of me because you don't like my opinion. Disagree great but state your counter argument why.
Roll Back Our Tax August 30, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Michele..there was a time in America where you could voice your opinion and not be falsely accused. The Mayor was offended with this post (see below) and felt threatened. She reported me to the Hopatcong Police. I deleted the last paragraph and now I am reposting the comment. Mayor Petillo with her failed economic development plan and then wants to reassess us to pay for BAD schools. http://hopatcong.patch.com/articles/hopatcong-to-focus-on-economic-development http://hopatcong.patch.com/articles/reassessment-approved-despite-residents-opposition Cliff Lunden with his stalling to post the teacher's contract until after the elections. http://www.perc.state.nj.us/publicsectorcontracts.nsf http://hopatcong.patch.com/articles/hopatcong-teachers-strike-tenative-contract http://hopatcong.patch.com/articles/6-to-battle-in-school-board-elections Marazano telling us about his credentials and how he "leaves school districts in better shape than when he came". http://hopatcong.patch.com/articles/maranzano-take-action-to-improve "Attaining four college degrees including my Doctorate from the College of William and Mary are a personal triumph, and leaving the schools I worked for in better shape as a result of my contributions a professional triumph". Borough Attorney Ursin and his relationship with Hudson Farms (Peter Kellogg) robbing us blind. http://hopatcong.patch.com/blog_posts/this-land-is-your-land-but-you-dont-know-it
Abe Lincoln August 30, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Oz speaks!
Roll Back Our Tax August 30, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Abe....the mighty OZ speaks...now there are 74 foreclosures in Hopatcong YTD http://www.zillow.com/homes/hopatcong,nj_rb/#/homes/for_sale/Hopatcong-NJ/fore_lt/house_type/52570_rid/40.963759,-74.577655,40.911888,-74.73936_rect/12_zm/0_mmm/ How can I sell a house? Will there anyone left in Hopatcong to pay taxes come 2013?
Abe Lincoln August 30, 2012 at 10:19 PM
Roll Back...the Mighty OZ is incorrect once more; these do not include those Hopatcong residences with post office addresses other than 07843...the real number is much higher..Oh, Mighty Oz I humbly beseech thee!
Roll Back Our Tax August 30, 2012 at 10:28 PM
Abe...actually it does include 07843. As honest Abe would say...“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
Abe Lincoln August 30, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Yes, that is all it includes; MUCH of the borough does NOT use 07843....I have to agree with you, you described yourself!..
Abe Lincoln August 30, 2012 at 10:33 PM
Roll Back...beem reading here, seems HPD has been kept quite busy by you; can I assume that the only 'action' they have taken was to inform you the mayor felt threatened by your remarks? Have youheard from the FBI?..Have YOU made any plea deals?
Roll Back Our Tax August 30, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Abe...if the HPD wants to get wrapped up in matters that's their perrogative. Yes, yes and no...answers to your questions. Nothing more to report. Thank you for inquiring.
Roll Back Our Tax August 30, 2012 at 10:43 PM
Abe...if you look at map Hopatcong is clearly outlined. “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
Abe Lincoln August 30, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Only those houses where zip = 07843 will show Your criteria: town = Hopatcong (that is outlined) zip= 07843 (that is only a portion of Hopatcong)....what do they say..Figures don't lie, but liars can figure? No, I do not doubt your honesty; once again you show things in black and white; can you grasp the fact that within Hopatcong, there are zips other than 07843; these houses will NOT appear using your sort criteria? That a great portion of houses IN HOPATCONG (outlined) have postal addresses in Stanhope, Byram, yada, yada, yada? It all depends on how the house was listed. Another whiz bang answer/twisted piece of 'research'. Now, what about the faulty piece of research concerning the testing of special needs students (above)? Why are you wasting your time making people feel they have to call HPD? Why are you wasting HPD's time? Have you heard from the FBI? And you scream about wasted tax dollars?
Abe Lincoln August 30, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Roll Out or perhaps Roll Back or Roll HPD or whatever....let me simplify this for you...I know of at least 15 houses in foreclosure located in Hopatcong where the zip is not equal to 07843; these are not listed; I do see every house that I am aware of where the zip does equal 07843 listed....
Roll Back Our Tax August 30, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Abe...again “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” Here's another quote of yours "you can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time but you cannot fool all the people all the time". I am onto you Abe.
Michele Guttenberger August 30, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Roll Back I cannot believe the over reach of power our Mayor has to send a patrol car to your home because you rhetorically used the words "Anger" and "Danger' in one sentance on an Internet site. This seems really WRONG here. I would feel intimated and harassed by my own local government, if it happened to me. I would be wondering if it was an incident the ACLU - American Civil Liberties Union would be interested in investigating. I would feel that I was being bullied from exercising my right to free speech. What a scary thought. Hard to believe it is taking place in an American Town. Hard to believe it is taking place in OUR Town. Did you take a snapshot image of your comment that you were forced to take down by the HPD per the Mayor's request?
Abe Lincoln August 30, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Roll Back: Hmmm seems to me you better complain to HPD again; someone has once again disagreed with you and shown you do not know what you are talking about
Roll Back Our Tax August 30, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Michele...yes I did. Looks like another Ethics violation under review by the Attorney General's office in retaliation to the filing of my first complaint against her. She just keeps digging the hole deeper. Abe has an "ax" to grind too. "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe".
Abe Lincoln August 30, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Had you directed that phrase at me I would have done the same.
Roll Back Our Tax August 31, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Overacting and misinterpretation. BTW..what was the phrase? I can't remember.
The Watcher August 31, 2012 at 12:14 AM
OK so we heard it hear first from Abe himself. To everyone who John Pezzino aka RBOT real bad on truth etc etc etc that felt "threatened" or "harassed" (please include friends and neighbors that are not on patch or do not have computers that he included in his remarks) and file a report with the police. It will be interesting to see if you are afforded the same treatment in the same time frame.
Roll Back Our Tax August 31, 2012 at 12:48 AM
I agree Abe...let's call off the reassessment!
The Watcher September 01, 2012 at 02:07 AM
Yes, Abe have to agree that in your opinion mayor misused her position and our tax dollars again thanks for pointing that out
Roll Back Our Tax September 03, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Or AGAIN we should just see if we can collect the money on all the tax liened homes in Hopatcong before we pass any increases onto to those who still can pay their taxes. Here's the most recent list of tax liened properties in Hopatcong YTD: http://www.foreclosure.com/search.html?ps=50&q=&ob=asc&dty=&o=ci&tab=t&cno=037&ntv=&xtv=&pmap=true&st=NJ&ay=&pg=9 http://www.foreclosure.com/search.html?ps=50&q=&ob=asc&dty=&o=ci&tab=t&cno=037&ntv=&xtv=&pmap=true&st=NJ&ay=&pg=10 http://www.foreclosure.com/search.html?ps=50&q=&ob=asc&dty=&o=ci&tab=t&cno=037&ntv=&xtv=&pmap=true&st=NJ&ay=&pg=11 http://www.foreclosure.com/search.html?ps=50&q=&ob=asc&dty=&o=ci&tab=t&cno=037&ntv=&xtv=&pmap=true&st=NJ&ay=&pg=12 http://www.foreclosure.com/search.html?ps=50&q=&ob=asc&dty=&o=ci&tab=t&cno=037&ntv=&xtv=&pmap=true&st=NJ&ay=&pg=13 There's 5 pages of them. They start at # 425 and it goes to #636. A grand total of 211 out of 1,537 in Sussex county or about 14%! We have to call Hopatcong now "The Borough of Unpaid Taxes".
Watson September 03, 2012 at 04:46 PM
You are by far the biggest idiot on Patch. It is rare that a foreclosed home owes any taxes. The lender (i. e. mortgage company, bank) will continue to pay property taxes on foreclosed properties. The lists you printed were houses in foreclosure. NOT homes that owe taxes. Easy enough to check on this at the tax assessors office. I think you'd better do your homework instead of spouting out more garbage.
Roll Back Our Tax September 03, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Watson...borrow Sherlock's magnifying glass. Did I say anything about property taxes NOT being paid on the 74 foreclosed homes (posted August 30th)? What I'd did say was "will there anyone left in Hopatcong to pay taxes come 2013"? Would you like to comment on the 211 "tax liened" properties above? If you open the links you will see they are "tax liened" properties I posted today September 3rd. You really need to find better ways to discredit me because obviously you are a bigger idiot than me.
Watson September 03, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Trust me. NO ONE is a bigger idiot than you.
Roll Back Our Tax September 03, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Well Watson....if any one could identify an IDIOT it would be you! Good investigative work!
Roll Back Our Tax September 04, 2012 at 01:27 AM
We need to get Abe and Watson together. I think between the two of them we could make one complete person. Problem is one would be British and the other one would be an American. Would that mean conflicting views? No because they are the same person. Genius!
Roll Back Our Tax September 04, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Looks like more spending on things we can't afford....Upcoming September 5th Council Meeting agenda http://www.hopatcong.org/agenda/REG090512.pdf 8. Resolution #2012-224 – Purchase of Mason Dumps A motion is in order to adopt a resolution authorizing the award of a contract for two mason dump trucks with snow plows and spreaders to Beyer Ford for a net amount of $152,986.00. Then another ordinance amending Chapter 5 of the Borough Code regarding the Land Use Board... 2. Adoption Ordinance #22-2012 – Amending Chapter 5 of the Borough Code A motion is in order to adopt an ordinance entitled “AN ORDINANCE OF THE BOROUGH OF HOPATCONG AMENDING CHAPTER 5 OF THE CODE OF THE BOROUGH OF HOPATCONG ENTITLED ‘BOARDS, COMMITTEES AND COMMISSIONS’ TO REFLECT THE BOROUGH’S MERGING OF THE PLANNING AND ZONING BOARDS INTO ONE LAND USE BOARD”.
Roll Back Our Tax March 26, 2014 at 05:00 AM
So here's what your reassessment got you...more foreclosures. http://hopatcong-sparta.patch.com/groups/opinion/p/foreclosures-in-hopatcong


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