Bill Text: NJ S3762 | 2018-2019 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Concerns assessment of real property.

Spectrum: Slight Partisan Bill (Republican 2-1)

Status: (Introduced) 2019-06-13 - Referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee [S3762 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2018-S3762-Introduced.html

SENATE, No. 3762

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

218th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED MAY 16, 2019

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  STEPHEN M. SWEENEY

District 3 (Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem)

Senator  DECLAN J. O'SCANLON, JR.

District 13 (Monmouth)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Concerns assessment of real property.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning the assessment of real property and amending P.L.2009, c.118.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    Section 2 of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-87) is amended to read as follows:

     2.    The Legislature finds and declares:

     [a.   Under the current real property assessment system, each municipality within a county assesses its property at a different percentage of market value, requiring that property be equalized to apportion county taxes among the constituent municipalities in order to meet the requirements of the Uniformity Clause, Article VIII, Section I, paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution.

     b.    Under the current real property assessment system each municipality has its own assessor.  The decision to revalue is often postponed beyond what is prudent, causing some property taxpayers in a municipality to subsidize other property taxpayers for many years.

     c.     A county tax assessment system will help address the shortcomings of the municipal assessment system by removing local responsibility for local revaluation costs.]

     a.     The "Property Tax Assessment Reform Act," P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-86 et al.) was originally enacted as a pilot program to assess the effectiveness of a county-based real property assessment system.  At the time of the law's enactment, real property assessment was performed strictly by municipal assessors.  The real property in each municipality within a county was assessed at a different percentage of market value, which necessitated the equalization of property values in order to apportion county taxes equally among all property taxpayers as required by Article VIII, Section I, paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution.  Municipalities often delayed the revaluation of real property, a process to update property values to reflect their "true value," due to the expense of the process.  These delays often resulted in taxpayers paying property taxes that were unrelated to the true value of their property.

     b.    The "Property Tax Assessment Reform Act" was originally intended to demonstrate that a centralized, county-based real property assessment process would allow for the determination of the true value of every parcel of real property in a county, and the maintenance of those true values going forward, benefitting property taxpayers as well as all of the local government units that depend on property taxes as their greatest share of revenue, because assessments would consistently be maintained at true value.  The Legislature was also interested in determining whether a centralized, county-based real property assessment process would be more cost efficient than having an assessor and support staff employed in each municipality in the State.

     c.     Upon the enactment of the "Property Tax Assessment Reform Act," Gloucester County became the pilot county of a county-based real property assessment pilot program, and the financial benefits of such a system quickly became evident.  In-house reassessments eliminated the need for costly revaluations; the county assessor's office cost per tax line item is substantially lower than the municipal cost per tax line item prior to the pilot program; and the number of tax appeals has fallen substantially, because assessments are maintained at a true value.  Most importantly, the county-based pilot program produced fair and uniform assessments in Gloucester County, so that property taxpayers would pay property taxes based on the true value of their property.

     d.    Given the success of the pilot program in Gloucester County, other counties in the State should be permitted to adopt the provisions of the "Property Tax Assessment Reform Act."

(cf:  P.L.2009, c.118, s.2)

 

     2.    Section 3 of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-88) is amended to read as follows:

     3.  As used in this act:

     "County governing body" means the county board of chosen freeholders [of the pilot county] , or in the case of those counties that have adopted the provisions of P.L.1972, c.154 (C.40:41A-1 et seq.), the county board of chosen freeholders and the county executive, the county supervisor, or the county manager, as appropriate.

     "County assessor" means the person appointed by the county governing body pursuant to section 4 of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-89) to assess property within the county for the purposes of taxation and exemption from taxation.

     "Department" means the Department of the Treasury.

     "Director" means the Director of the Division of Property Assessment in the Department of the Treasury.

     "Deputy county assessor" means the holder of a certified property assessor certificate who is employed by the office of the county assessor [within the pilot county] and assigned to perform duties and responsibilities for the assessment of property for purposes of taxation under the supervision of the county assessor.

     "Division" means the Division of Taxation in the Department of the Treasury.

     ["Pilot county" means the County of Gloucester.]

(cf:  P.L.2009, c.118, s.3)

     3.    Section 4 of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-89) is amended to read as follows:

     4.    a.     [On] (1)  Any county governing body, except the county governing body of a county that has adopted the provisions of P.L.2013, c.15 (C.54:1-101 et al.), may, by ordinance or resolution, as appropriate, adopt the provisions of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-86 et al.).  Not later than the third calendar day next following its adoption of the provisions of that law, the county governing body shall notify the State Treasurer, in writing, of the county governing body's action.  Not later than ten business days next following its adoption of the provisions of that law, the county governing body shall notify the taxpayers of the county by placing a notice in the official newspaper of the county. The assessor of each municipality shall advise each taxpayer in writing of the county's action not later than ten business days after the notice has been published in the official newspaper of the county.

     (2)   A county governing body adopting the provisions of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-86 et al.) shall appoint a county assessor on the first day of January of the first full calendar year next following: the effective date of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-86 et al.)[,]; or the date of adoption by a county of the provisions of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-86 et al.) pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection[; or as soon thereafter as may be practicable, the county governing body shall appoint a county assessor].

     b.    (1)     The county assessor shall be an employee of the [pilot] county and shall serve on a full-time basis for an initial five-year term.

     (2)   No person shall be appointed as county assessor unless that person holds a certified property assessor's certificate and has at least five years of experience as a municipal tax assessor or deputy county assessor, or held the position of county tax administrator prior to the appointment of the first county assessor pursuant to this section.

     (3)   The county assessor shall acquire tenure in office upon reappointment to a second five-year term and thereafter shall hold office during good behavior and efficiency, and shall not be removed for political reasons or for any cause other than incapacity, misconduct, disobedience of rules or regulations established by the director or by the county governing body, failure to meet the standards of performance established by the director, or schedules or standards adopted pursuant to P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-86 et al.).

     c.     The [pilot] county shall constitute a taxing district for the purpose of the assessment of property in the State.

(cf:  P.L.2009, c.118, s.4)

 

     4.    Section 5 of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-90) is amended to read as follows:

     5.    a.     [On] Every municipality within a county adopting the provisions of P.L.2009, c.118 (C,54:1-86 et al.) shall implement a real property revaluation on or before December 31 of the third full calendar year next following: the effective date of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-86 et al.)[,]; or the date of adoption by a county of the provisions of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-86 et al.), pursuant to paragraph (1) of subsection a. of section 4 of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-89) [, every municipality within the pilot county shall implement a real property revaluation].

     b.    (1)     The county assessor appointed pursuant to subsection a. of section 4 of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-89) shall assist the municipalities in meeting the requirements of subsection a. of this section through the promulgation of a phase-in plan for the orderly completion and implementation of the municipal revaluations, or by any other means [he deems] deemed appropriate.

     (2)   The county assessor may waive the revaluation requirement for a particular municipality under subsection a. of this section [upon his finding] if the county assessor determines that the municipality implemented a revaluation within 24 months of the effective date of: P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-86 et al.)[,]; or the adoption by a county of the provisions of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-86 et al.), pursuant to paragraph (1) of subsection a. of section 4 of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-89).

     c.     The cost of the revaluations required under subsection a. of this section shall be paid by the [pilot] county.  The costs of a previous revaluation for a municipality that has been granted a waiver under paragraph (2) of subsection b. of this section shall be reimbursed by the [pilot] county.  Following the completion of the three year period established pursuant to subsection a. of this section, the State shall reimburse the [pilot] county for those amounts using funds made available to the [pilot] county from either the SHARE program pursuant to section 30 of P.L.2007, c.63 (C.40A:65-30) or from the Consolidation Fund established by P.L.2008, c.35, or both in equal installments, over three years.

     d.    The monies required to be paid for municipal revaluations by a [pilot] county pursuant to subsection c. of this section and [the pilot] a county's administrative start-up costs shall not be included or considered a part of the county tax levy under section 4 of P.L.1976, c.68 (C.40A:4-45.4) or a part of the county's adjusted tax levy under sections 9 and 10 of P.L.2007, c.62 (C.40A:4-45.44 and 40A:4-45.45).

(cf:  P.L.2009, c.118, s.5)

 

     5.    Section 6 of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-91) is amended to read as follows:

     6.    a.     The county governing body shall appoint deputy county assessors and assistant deputy county assessors as needed, subject to the requirements of section 13 of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-98).  Deputy county assessors and assistant deputy county assessors may be appointed at any time after the appointment of [the] a county assessor [in a pilot county].

     A candidate for the position of deputy county assessor or assistant deputy county assessor shall hold a certified tax assessor certificate.  Such a candidate may substitute, for any requirement of years of experience for appointment to those positions, on a year for year basis, membership in the Appraisal Institute or years of experience as a Principal Assistant Assessor.

     b.    [The] A  county assessor shall direct the work of all deputy county assessors.

     c.     (1)     The county assessor shall be responsible to the county governing body for the efficient operation of [his] the county assessor's office and of the deputy county assessors within the [pilot] county.

     (2)   The county assessor shall determine employment jurisdictions for deputy county assessors under [his] the county assessor's supervision, however, the county governing body shall establish their hours of employment, the terms and conditions of their employment, and fix their compensation.

     d.    The county assessor shall establish a permanent central office within the [pilot] county, and may authorize additional permanent or temporary district offices within the [pilot] county, within the limits of funds made available for those purposes by the county governing body.

     e.     (1)     The county assessor may request that the county governing body employ such additional professional and clerical assistants as are necessary for the performance of [his] the county assessor's duties.

     (2)   Any professional or clerical assistants supervised by the county assessor shall be employees of the [pilot] county.

     f.  After December 31st of the third full year next following the first appointment of a county assessor pursuant to subsection a. of section 4 of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-89), the position of county tax administrator is abolished in that [pilot] county.

(cf:  P.L.2017, c.306, s.11)

 

     6.    Section 7 of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-92) is amended to read as follows:

     7.    The county assessor shall:

     a.     supervise the deputy county assessors and, when appropriate, recommend the removal of a deputy county assessor for failure to adhere to standards of performance adopted by the director or schedules or standards adopted pursuant to P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-86 et al.);

     b.    assure compliance with standards adopted by the director for staff of the deputy county assessors, office space, equipment, and other resources;

     c.     notify the county tax board of any revaluation, or complete or partial reassessment, which may be necessary and appropriate for a taxing district, and monitor the progress and review, revise or correct the results of any revaluation or reassessment which may be ordered by the county [tax] board of taxation;

     d.    monitor the progress, and review, revise, or correct the results of any other revaluation or reassessment conducted within [his] the county assessor's jurisdiction;

     e.     review, revise, and correct all property assessment lists prepared by the deputy county assessors within the [pilot] county;

     f.  provide such technical and professional assistance as may be requested by deputy county assessors, and as may be practicable within the support provided for the county assessor by the county governing body; and

     g.  perform any other tasks which the director deems necessary to ensure the valuation of property within the [pilot] county pursuant to law.

(cf:  P.L.2009, c.118, s.7)

 

     7.    Section 8 of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-93) is amended to read as follows:

     8.    a.     The county assessor, through a staff of deputy county assessors, shall locate, identify, and determine the taxable status of property within every municipality within the [pilot] county, determine the taxable value of the property, and prepare tax lists and tables of aggregates and equalization in the same form and manner as is provided under chapter 4 of Title 54 of the Revised Statutes, pursuant to a schedule established by the county assessor.

     b.    The county assessor shall be responsible for reviewing, revising, and correcting all work done by the staff of deputy county assessors within the [pilot] county.

(cf:  P.L.2009, c.118, s.8)

 

     8.    Section 9 of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-94) is amended to read as follows:

     9.    a.     Whenever any law, rule or regulation provides for the review, revision or correction of an assessor's list or duplicate, or a list of added or omitted properties, that review, revision or correction shall be performed by the county assessor [in the pilot county], except any correction performed as the result of an assessment appeal, which correction shall be made by the county board of taxation after notice to the county assessor.

     b.    Any reference in any law, rule, or regulation to a revised and corrected assessor's list or duplicate in the [pilot] county, except in the case of a revision or correction made pursuant to an assessment appeal, shall mean the list or duplicate reviewed, revised or corrected by the county assessor.

(cf:  P.L.2009, c.118, s.9)

 

     9.    Section 10 of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-95) is amended to read as follows:

     10.  Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the county assessor shall make the annual tax list and property values for each municipality available for public inspection within that municipality.  Following the completion of the three-year phase-in schedule pursuant to section 12 of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-97), sufficient staff shall be present in each district office authorized within the [pilot] county pursuant to subsection d. of section 6 of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-91) to assist the county assessor and to answer questions and address concerns that taxpayers have in reference to the assessment values and other property assessment and tax-related matters.

(cf:  P.L.2009, c.118, s.10)

 

     10.  Section 12 of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-97) is amended to read as follows:

     12.  The county assessor, in consultation with every municipal governing body and municipal tax assessor, shall promulgate a three-year schedule for the abolishment of the office of municipal tax assessor for every municipality within the [pilot] county.  Thereafter, with respect to those municipalities, any reference in law to the duties and responsibilities of the office of municipal tax assessor pertaining to the assessment and reassessment of property shall be construed in the context of the statutory scheme of sections 1 through 15 of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-86 et seq.) to mean the deputy county assessor under the supervision of the county assessor.  Any reference in law to the office of municipal tax assessor which conflicts in whole or in part with sections 1 through 15 of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-86 et seq.), particularly with regard to the appointment, employment, and removal of municipal tax assessors, shall be construed to have been repealed in whole or in conflicting part, with respect to municipalities located within the [pilot] county, by the provisions of sections 1 through 15 of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-86 et seq.).

(cf:  P.L.2009, c.118, s.12)

 

     11.  Section 14 of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-99) is amended to read as follows:

     14.  a.     In accordance with the phase-in schedule promulgated by the county assessor pursuant to section 12 of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-97), the county tax administrator [for the pilot county], in consultation with the county governing body and the county assessor, shall effectuate the transfer of the property assessment function in all of the municipalities within the [pilot] county to the county assessor.  All current or pending assessment and abatement programs and agreements under the "Long Term Tax Exemption Law," P.L.1991, c.431 (C.40A:20-1 et seq.), and the "Five-Year Exemption and Abatement Law," P.L.1991, c.441 (C.40A:21-1 et seq.), shall continue to be approved by the municipality.

     b.    If a county assessor seeks to settle a property tax appeal [,] filed pursuant to R.S.54:3-21, the county assessor shall inform the municipality in which the property that is the subject of the appeal is located prior to entering into any final settlement agreement, pursuant to procedures promulgated by the director.

(cf:  P.L.2009, c.118, s.14)

 

     12.  Section 15 of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-100) is amended to read as follows:

     15.  The Director of the Division of Taxation in the Department of the Treasury shall adopt rules and regulations concerning the valuation of property in [the pilot] a county that has adopted the provisions of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-86 et al.) effectuate the purposes of [sections 1 through 14 of P.L.2009, c.118 (C.54:1-86 through C.54:1-99)] that law.  The rules and regulations shall include provisions permitting segmental assessment.

(cf:  P.L.2009, c.118, s.15)

 

     13.  Section 1 of P.L.1960, c.51 (C54:4-2.25) is amended to read as follows:

     1.    All real property subject to assessment and taxation for local use shall be assessed according to the same standard of value, which shall be the true value of such real property and the assessment shall be expressed in terms of the taxable value of such property, which taxable value shall be that percentage of true value as shall be established by each county board of taxation as the level of taxable value to be applied uniformly throughout the county.

     The true value of such real property shall be determined by the municipal-wide reassessment of that real property performed by municipal assessors when the ratio of assessed value to true value is lower than 90 percent or greater than 110 percent.

(cf:  P.L.1960, c.51, s.1)

 

     14.  Section 1 of P.L.1973, c.123 (C.54:1-35a) is amended to read as follows:

     a.     The  "average ratio" of assessed to true value of real property for a taxing district for the purposes of this act shall mean that ratio promulgated by the Director of the Division of Taxation pursuant to P.L.1954, c. 86 (C. 54:1-35.1 et seq.), as of October 1 of the year preceding the tax year, as revised by the tax court.

     b.    The "common level range"  for a taxing district is that range which is  plus or minus [15%] ten percent of the average ratio for that district.

(cf:  P.L. 1983, c. 36, s. 10

 

     15.  (New section)  The assessor of each municipality shall perform periodic municipal-wide reassessments of real property in the municipality as the assessor deems necessary to ensure that the ratio of assessed value to true value of the real property is not less than 90 percent or greater than 110 percent in any tax year.

     Each assessor shall annually certify to the Director of the Division of Taxation in the Department of the Treasury that the ratio of assessed value to true value of real property in the municipality is not less than 90 percent or greater than 110 percent.

 

     16.  This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill makes several changes to current statutory law concerning the assessment of real property in this State.

     This bill would permit additional counties to adopt the provisions of the "Property Tax Assessment Reform Act," P.L.2009, c.181 (C.54:1-86 et seq.), enacted as a pilot program to explore the efficacy of county-based real property assessment.  As enacted, that law limited the pilot program to Gloucester County.  This bill would permit any county to adopt the provisions of the "Property Tax Assessment Reform Act," except a county that, on the bill's effective date, is operating under the "Real Property Assessment Demonstration Program," P.L.2013, c.115 (C.54:1-101 et al.).  Currently, only Monmouth County operates under that demonstration program.  Under county-based real property assessment, a county assessor can maintain, and correct as necessary, the value of real property in each municipality within a county so that all property taxpayers are treated equitably.

     The bill also revises how real property assessments are determined across the State.  Current law requires that the standard in the State for the assessment of a parcel of real property is its "true value," which is essentially the market value of a parcel of real property.  This bill would require that the true value of real property shall be determined by the municipal-wide reassessment of that real property performed by municipal assessors when the ratio of assessed value to true value is lower than 90 percent or greater than 110 percent, and reduces the common level range calculated annually by the Director of the Division of Taxation to those levels.  The bill would also require the assessor of each municipality to perform periodic municipal-wide reassessments of real property as the assessor deems necessary to ensure that the ratio of assessed value to true value of the real property is not less than 90 percent or greater than 110 percent in any tax year.

feedback