The Appraisals Are In…

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Has your assessed value tripled? How about an assessed value that’s higher than the purchase price of a house, bought just a year and a half ago. Montclair, tell your appraisal stories here.
Meanwhile if you’re feeling left out because you didn’t receive a letter yet, you’re not alone. A tipster writes…

When I didn’t receive my letter today I figured it must have been lost in the mail. So I called Appraisal systems. Apparently they are sending them out in batches. The last batch is scheduled to be mailed on January 15.

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79 COMMENTS

  1. I too bought my house about a year and a half ago. The appraisal came in 35k higher. With the change in the market, I’d be lucky to get 35k LESS than I paid. Methinks these appraisals are easily 10-15% too high.

  2. Is anyone familiar with the appeals process? Seems like Remsen, et al, wanted to cash in on a booming market, the likes of which will not be seen for many years to come. Why does that not surprise us? Their ability to inflate numbers from any source (read Hotel from five floors to nine) is impressive.

  3. Theoretically, the total amount of tax dollars collected should not increase as a result of the reval. The tax rate will go down to allow for the new assessed ‘market value.’ I predict a lot of upset though, as many Montclarians are going to feel their homes are overassessed, even if their tax bill does not increase once the tax rate is announced and implemented.
    BTW, if anyone wants to buy my house for its assessed value, it’s yours!

  4. Hiding,
    The town and the Board of Ed do not get any additional income from a re-val. It’s like figuring out how to “split the check” at a restaurant, the bill does not change, but your personal “share” goes up or down. In fact, since it costs money to do a re-val and a town’s legal costs tend to be much higher the year after a re-val, the net result is a slight reduction in net income for the municipality.
    The County can, and often does, get more from a town after a reval (the other towns in the county see their “county share” reduced accordingly). This would be the case if the municipality’s newly calculated “assessed value” is higher than the “estimated actual value” that was used to calculate the town’s “county share in the previous year.
    For a number of reasons, it is very unlikely that a municipalities “county share” will go down after a re-val.

  5. Carl,
    Wouldn’t you say that this system is needlessly complicated? I would guess — based on comments here and on the Watercooler — that very few understand it.
    There’s got to be a better way.

  6. Excuse me Carl,
    Could you point to documentation that supports this claim that overall revenue (net) will remain the same. I reckon I’m just a tad skeptical.
    JB

  7. P.S. When I said “the net result is a slight reduction in net income for the municipality” I meant “slight” in relation to the much larger amounts involved. For example, in Glen Ridge (where I am more familiar with the numbers), the cost of the re-val itself, which begins in 2007, will probably cost the average taxpayer about $33 a year for the next five years.

  8. Hater,
    That few understand it does not make it complicated. It just takes a moment to understand it. If you can make it through the process of buying a home, I would think this is fairly easy.
    It has a few steps, but is fairly simple. The town has a budget (municipal serves, Bd. Of Ed, etc.). That budget is then divided
    Using that budget, they create a “tax rate” based on $1000 of a homes assessed value.
    Therefore, the higher an assessed value, the more tax.
    (So, in theory the re-assessment should not drastically change your tax—of course some folks how haven’t been paying enough will scream, while those who were paying too much will sigh. The hope is that the tax will be more fair house to house.)
    Is there an easier method? Probably, but this one isn’t that complicated.
    (Feel free to correct my formula, I might have missed a step…)

  9. >>>so does anybody have a ballpark figure for what the new rate will be?
    i suck at math, but my best effort tells me that in order for my tax bill to stay fairly close to what it is now, the new rate would have to be somewhere around 1.50.

  10. OK, I got my appraisal. I’ve owned this house for 8 years, but the value is is pretty much what i thought it’d be based on stuff that’s sold on my block recently. so i can’t complain about that. If the new rate really is around 1.50 per thousand, then my bill will go down a little more than 2k per year.

  11. If 1.5 means most people would have a decrease, I think the more realistic interpretation may be that the original (hiding) poster of a 1.50 figure is going to be part of the (guesstimated) 1/3 of homeowners facing an increase.

  12. There is no point in getting crazy about these notifications.
    I am more interested to see whether similar properties to ours are assessed with a similar value, and therefore distributing the tax load in a fair manner.
    Getting a note with a number expressed in ‘Montclair Dollars’ is pointless without further information like future tax rate or being able to compare amounts accross all properties.
    Whats the procedure to ensure that similar properties are assessed with similar amounts?
    Do we again have to trust our competent and efficient local administration as we had to with the sewer fee rate and bill ?
    I think that the approach to send single homeowners letters with their assessed amounts are more obfuscating the issue than anything.
    Since all these assessed amounts are going to be public information anyway, whats preventing the township to post all new amounts now, allowing the taxpayer to check on the overall fairness of the process?
    sigh …

  13. i agree with the other hiding — the day before christmas??? just call it the town grinch. anyway, i called today and was able to get an appointment for next wednesday to go thru the assessment basis….

  14. The Montclair tax department will be busy next year, especially if the current real estate market developments follow the negative trend. If you feel your assessed value is to high, start visiting comparible homes for sale in your neighborhood June though November 2007. Save the flyers, find the homes online and save this pics. If the homes sell for less than your home is assesed, then use it in your 2008 tax appeal. Be prepared and willing to push you case to the county and State tax boards.
    I agree with other posters. Assessed value means nothing without the tax rate. I am very suprised that Montclair is allowed to send out the new assessed value without listing the new tax rate. Is that even legal?

  15. TH,
    The problem is really in the antiquated way in which property values are calculated and adjusted for changes in value. If that were to be modernized (which I have advocated for many years), there would be no need for re-vals.
    Jon,
    It is a re-calculation of our share of the total burden, it is a value, not an amount of revenue (even in the case of the county, they get no additional $, they just get less from the other towns), as I said, it’s like splitting the check.
    Let’s say you & I split a pizza once a year, every year. We have the pie sliced into six pieces (you and I, like Yogi, can’t eat eight). You and I each have 3 slices and the bill in 2005 was $18.00, you paid 3/6 ($9) and I paid 3/6. Maybe when we started, the total bill was $12, but our share was still 3/6 each ($6).
    In 2006, the pizza cost is still $18. I bring my cousin with me, so we have them slice it into eight pieces. You have two, I eat five, and Carolyn has one. To be as fair as possible, we decide to “revalue” each of the slices from 1/6 to 1/8.
    In this example (I’ll call it “Example A”), your share goes down to 2/8 ($4.50) and my share goes up to 5/8 ($11.25), but the pizza guy still only gets $18.
    Of course, unlike pizza, property taxes go up every year, so let’s say that the pizza went up to $20 in 2006. In this example (“Example B”), your share still goes down to 2/8, but that now equals $5, my share is still 5/8, but I now owe 12.50.
    “Example A” is like the re-val, revenue (for the pizza guy or the town) stays the same. “Example B” is like is the re-val after the Schools, The Town and the County put together their new annual budgets. The re-val was not the cause of the Pizza Guy getting more money, the price (budget) increase was, he would have got the same amount more ($2) no matter how we divided the bill.
    As far as additional sources of information, I would try the County Tax Board, the library, or try Google.

  16. Isn’t it STUPID to send out the revals without telling us what the tax rate is? I realize they don’t know the rate yet, but why not hold off on the reval numbers until they do. The reval numbers are MEANINGLESS without the rate.

  17. Mine didn’t come today (damn!!), but a friend just said that his house, which he’s in the process of selling for $525K, was assessed at over $900!!!!

  18. Our tax rate is arround $15. My house assessed value is about 15% of the “true” assessed value. That means that after the assessment the new GR tax rate should be around $2.25 (before TURF).
    I guess only time will tell what will happen to us.

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  20. For those of you who didn’t quite follow Mayor Bergmanson’s illustration, break it into some additional steps:
    Imagine your house is a $10.00 pizza. Now, you live in a pizza — what the hell is wrong with you? How can you live in a pizza? OK, make it a pizza in a box! If you’re small enough, you could live in a pizza box. OK, so now you are, like, mouse-sized. You have, for a mouse, about two month’s worth of food if you’re in the box with a large pizza. It’s best if you make your little mouse poopies away from the pizza or, better yet, outside the box — but, hey, you are a mouse so we’ll understand if you poop where you eat and sleep.
    So, now you are a mouse living in your own pizza poop and you have the nerve to complain about the process? Unbelievable!
    Next week: how income taxes affect gravity.

  21. Thanks, Carl (Mayor of Glen Ridge) for trying to explain the process in straightforward language.
    I’ve noticed over time that when you post, rhetoric and name calling and general nastiness seems to subside.
    I think the explanation is that you assume people are reasonable, and intelligent, and you treat them with respect. And you listen.
    Are you available on a consulting basis? You could teach Montclair’s leadership A LOT!

  22. Haven’t gotten my letter yet either, but this should be interesting. My husband and I own a 2 family near the Walnut Street train. Every multi-family listed for over $500k in our neighborhood doesn’t seem to be able to sell.
    Does anyone know how soon we will be able to view the 2007 tax list published by the township?
    I feel like in our old assessment we were paying way more than we should have in comparison to our neighbors – they had bigger, more renovated homes, but were somehow assessed for less than us. I am very eager to find out if that inequity carried over to our new assessments.

  23. I think I saw on the town website that it would be posted in January. Then again, I also remember them saying originally that the letters would arrive in October. Now get back to work!

  24. Still waiting in GR,
    Our reval will be effective 2008, which is two budget years away, so assuming 5.68% increases (the average increase over the last 3 years), and that our housing stock stays at around 17% of assessed value (The current Directors Ratio is 16.64%), my guess on the 2008 tax rate would be more like $2.85. If your home is currently assessed at 15% of actual market value (Slightly more under-assessed than the average house), my guess is that you will probably pretty much break-even with the re-val, but it is hard to say with any real certainty.
    Since you mention the turf, I should point out that the bond proposal (which includes the turf) will lower the municipal portion of our taxes by about 7%. Accordingly, my estimate of the 2008 tax rate if the bond passes is $2.81.
    Mr. Science,
    Thanks for the laugh
    Not Ms. Post,
    Thank you for your kind words. As I have said here before, it is much easier to be the Mayor of Glen Ridge than it is to be the Mayor of most towns, especially much larger towns.

  25. I am not looking to pay a dime more than I need to in taxeas like everyone else, but the system did need a serious overhaul. I bought my house 5 years ago it was assessed for half what I paid for it then. The number I got yesterday was actually amazing close to what I think it would sell for. When people are sitting on million dollar homes that are assessed for 240K, well. . .that’s pretty absurd.

  26. I am stretching our dollars to continue living in Glen ridge, the way it is. If our taxes see a substantial increase, I am not sure what we are going to do.

  27. They will announce the tax rate at 11:01 PM on a Saturday night in deepest February, similar to how Nixon handled the removal of Archibald Cox from his role as special prosecutor. That way, the outrage won’t begin until the Monday morning media massacre. By then, three people will have died of apoplexy and most of the rest will too worried about getting to work to care. Clever, very clever.

  28. Why not make it simplier and get rid if the regressive property tax and make it an income tax. When my value goes up I can’t cash in shingles at the bank to pay the tax. I am sure we could find a way to figure out renters from owners, and non-resident owners as well. You may not be able to know exactly the tax flow in quite the same way year to year but I feel sure we come up with something workable.

  29. Why not make it simplier and get rid if the regressive property tax and make it an income tax. When my value goes up I can’t cash in shingles at the bank to pay the tax. I am sure we could find a way to figure out renters from owners, and non-resident owners as well. You may not be able to know exactly the tax flow in quite the same way year to year but I feel sure we come up with something workable. And yes I know thats a state constitution issue, but we will need some sort of long term solution in any case.

  30. Carl you are right, I did not take inflation in costs increases into account in my rough estimate.
    On the other hand you did not include the new retable’s and the possibility of a new school funding formula actually working in our favor.
    Like Nershi we are forced to stretch our dollars further every year to make ends meet. It is getting harder and harder to come up with yet another $100+ p/m to pay for the property tax increases. Not everybody in town works on Wall Street you know.

  31. Called the town to ask if my assessment had been mailed. Was told that only a few have gone out with the rest scheduled to be in home before the end of the month…

  32. I like Pizza, but I like turf better.
    Lets say that I want 2 fields turfed, and I don’t want to pay for them.
    I would seek 10, 10 yard pieces (times 2) of the field turf to be paid for by YOU and YOU.
    Just look at it as a re-calculation your share of the total burden.

  33. Sitting and waiting in Glen Ridge (& Nershi),
    Don’t I know it. I don’t work on Wall Street either, and coming up with the cash to pay my property taxes four times a year is getting harder and harder.
    Of course, I hope the increases are much less, and on the municipal side, I am confident that they will be. In fact, if the bond passes, I think that we will be able to keep this year’s Municipal Portion to a 1 or 2% increase, and you are correct, we hope to see a significant boost in ratables in 2008. I tried to factor all of those things into my numbers, but looming on the other side of the ledger you have a lot of potentially very expensive talk coming out of Trenton, and some other things (like the re-val) that we will have to pay for, so 5.65% net-per-year overall (School/Town/County) is, all things considered, about as optimistic as I think any Municipal official could reasonably feel about the next two budget years. If it’s less, I’m sure we won’t get any complaints.
    Turf Good,
    Your argument would have more merit if the turf were going to cost more than the sod it is replacing. Over time, the costs for the turf will be comparable or less than sod (especially at Hurrell), and there is no question that installing turf instead of installing sod as part of the bond proposal will mean lower taxes in 2007. That means that the advocates of turf are asking you to pay less, not more (And that’s not even taking into account that the Council is considering instituting user fees for the fields to reduce the burden on the taxpayers even more).

  34. I agree that some of the assessed values seem high, but if homes are consistently overvalued it should not effect your taxes. All that matters in a reval is the RELATIVE value of your home (compared to others in the tax base), not the absolute value. Of course this reasoning completely falls apart if the valuations are not consistent across homes.

  35. “Your argument would have more merit if the turf were going to cost more than the sod it is replacing. ****Over time, the costs for the turf will be comparable or less than sod ”
    Spoken like a true politician. In your opinion.
    When has a city, county or Federal Guvment done anything that has resulted in less costs for the taxpayers???????? HUH.
    The kids want turf, tell their parents to hold a bake sale. Why should those who don’t “USE” it have to pay for it????
    The council is crazy if they don’t “institute user fees” that is what this whole process has been about. The few trying to exploit and hoodwink the many.
    That and a (reckless) council that didn’t think about the concerns of their constituents.
    What the “advocates” need to do is raise the money themselves through public and private donations, much like they did w/ the roof over Essex Rink in the 70’s.
    They wanted a roof, they raised the money and did it. It couldn’t be as big as a regulation arena cause they couldn’t AFFORD it. So they scaled it back and GOTTER DONE.
    FYI ——“coming up with the cash to pay my property taxes four times a year is getting harder and harder”.
    Lately it’s been 5 and 6 times a year w/ your mid quarter tax increases !

  36. The amount of misinformation and lack of understanding in these posts is atrocious. Let’s try to clear up some of them.
    I wonder what Montclair will do with all this extra income????
    Higher assessments does not mean additional income. The Town establishes a budget and then distibutes the tax burden on the basis of the assessments.
    Seems like Remsen, et al, wanted to cash in on a booming market, the likes of which will not be seen for many years to come.
    The reassessment was not initiated by the Town, it is mandated and required by the State and the County because the assessments were too far out of line with market value.
    Wouldn’t you say that this system is needlessly complicated? It’s complicated but not needlessly For example, there is a formula for insuring that the taxpayers in a town where the assessments are about 100 per cent of market value do not pay an those in a town which has assessments at 20 per cent of market value. There is a complicated equalization formula to apportion county taxes in a fair way.
    I am very suprised that Montclair is allowed to send out the new assessed value without listing the new tax rate. Is that even legal? Fact is, it is impossible to fix a tax rate until two things happen, l. the total new assessed value of all the property in Montclair is determined, and 2, the town determines what it’s budget will be.
    Great timing as usual, mailing them NOW , RIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS ??? !!! Anyone who thinks the timing before Christmas was deliberate is suffering from paranoia. I expect they got them out as quickly as they could. In fact, some of us who already have very high assessments will regard reassessment as a welcome gift – our relative share of the taxes will go down vis-a-vis those who have been underassessed.

  37. “There is no question that installing turf instead of installing sod as part of the bond proposal will mean lower taxes in 2007.”
    Because of the threat that was made by the council, to the petitioners.
    ..”If the bond(s) fail, we will raise your taxes”.
    And while we are here, I remember you said you were not too sure the turf was the right answer.
    What changed?
    ” I tried to factor all of those things into my numbers, but looming on the other side of the ledger you have a lot of potentially very expensive talk coming out of Trenton, and some other things”
    CYA……….

  38. Pizza,
    We only send out four tax bills a year, and taxes can only be raised once a year. The only other tax increases would be if you make improvements to your property, but that’s the same tax at the same rate, just applied to something that’s added.
    Spensive writes:
    ..”If the bond(s) fail, we will raise your taxes”.
    If the bond is passed, it will allow us to ask for less money from the taxpayers in 2007, that is not a threat, that√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s an economic fact. The council and I have said from the beginning that we had major expenses coming due in 2007 that we could not put off any longer. If we don’t finance them, we will have to pay cash for them. There is nothing surprising about that, that is the main function of financing. The biggest part of that, which accounts for a 5% increase all by itself, will be the $350,000 for repairs to the library. That√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s for a two-for-one grant, which means that if we don√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t come up with it, we√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢d be turning down $700,000 from the state. That√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s a good deal that we should not, and I will not, pass up, even if the taxpayers decide not to bond it and we have to pay cash.
    And while we are here, I remember you said you were not too sure the turf was the right answer. What changed?
    Nothing changed. There are a number of good arguments against turf, but, with our high levels of use on our fields, cost is not one of them. Putting turf at Hurrell will save the taxpayers $50,000 in 2007 (because we now have those budget figures, that’s a fact, not my opinion), and will save the taxpayers money for the life of the bond. I am still opposed to turf at Carteret, but that is in spite of the fact that it will save the taxpayers money in 2007. The long-term financial argument is less strong for two fields, because if we turf Hurrell, we can reduce the wear-and-tear (and the costs) of grass at Carteret. Carteret is also a park, which makes the installation of turf there more objectionable to me. But even with all that said, it would be at least a break-even deal long term, cost-wise.
    CYA……….
    If I could predict the future, I would be working on Wall Street, or retired from same.
    Only 23% of the tax rate is the Municipal Budget, and, as I said, I expect that we will be at 1-2% in 2007 if the bond passes. (Last year we were at 2.6%). While I will not be Mayor in 2008, looking at the budget predictions, I expect that barring major funding changes from Trenton, or new un-funded mandates (which a municipality has little control over), we should come in around 2% or less in 2008 as well.
    The problem is that the other 77% comes from the schools and the county, and the municipality has little say on either of those budgets.
    And besides, stating an exact prediction is hardly CYA in any case. Pizza stated some reasons he thought the number could be lower (and it certainly could be), I stated some things I thought might pull it the other way. I would be thrilled to have it come in much lower than the 5.65% we’ve been at over the last three years, I just don’t think it is that likely. Keep in mind that over that time, and currently, property taxes have been going up 8% a year nationally, and 9% a year in NJ.
    I must now leave (my house is full of guests), but feel free to call or email me if you have any questions. The bond is a good deal for our town and taxpayers, and will reduce our municipal property taxes by 7% (and our overall property taxes by 1.6%) in 2007 while allowing us to rebuild the infrastructure of the town; I think that when we lay the facts out for them, the voters will agree.

  39. Lots of noise about how taxes are calculated. Very little about how the appraisal is calculated. Most of our homes were appraised at about the same time way back in the last century. And then appraised again this year. The biggest factor in changing your taxes will be the difference between your increase and the average increase in appraisals.
    So all you Barrista readers — by what percentage did your appraisal increase?
    Ours increased by (old/new-1)*100 = 159%

  40. “Spensive writes:
    ..”If the bond(s) fail, we will raise your taxes”.
    If the bond is passed, it will allow us to ask for less money from the taxpayers in 2007, that is not a threat, that√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s an economic fact”
    Separate OUT THE TURF from the bonds. Make them separate from the “major -Spenses coming due in 2007”.
    I’m not saying don’t do the repairs. Do the work and let it grow don’t piggyback the 2 issues.
    and School budgets have been on the ballot initiatives which have in fact raised taxes our taxes on top of the 4 tax bills.
    It was just lumped into the 4 tax bills. The majority said yes 11% – 8% no, but taxes still went up.

  41. Byron,
    Thanks, I needed that. Sometimes it takes brutal honesty. I know Woody Allen married a 22yr old when he was 57…but that aint me babe. no, no, no, it aint’ me babe, it aint me she’s lookin’ for…

  42. …..la cosa piu importante e di sapere come girare la pizza in modo che caschiamo sempre in piede!
    Buone Feste!

  43. (translation….the most important thing is to know how to flip the pizza so that we all land right side up!…..an old neapolitan proverb….happy holidays!)

  44. REMEMBER…THE LAST APPRAISAL ON THE BOOKS WAS ONLY 45% OF THE VALUE.
    THIS IS NOW AN APPRAISAL AT 100%.
    Also, when we switch over, the tax rate will go down from $5.36 to around $2.07 – $2.10 depending on the 2007 budget. That will be decided sometime in the early summer. So most people will continue to pay taxes at the current rate until the August 2007 tax bill — unless you have a property that converted from a non-profit to a ratable.
    To estimate your new yearly taxes, take the new assessment received from Appraisal Systems and multiply it by .0210 — and you should be pretty close.

  45. Great! That math (a tax rate of 2.10) would take my taxes from approx. 9000 to approx. 13000, and would force me to move out of Montclair. And not a thing has been done to my house since the last reval. I don’t have an extra 333/month.

  46. How does the reval appeal work- does it work the same as a regular tax appeal where you have to bring in comps of other houses that are like yours in terms of size number of rooms and where they are located?

  47. And not a thing has been done to my house since the last reval.
    I am expecting an increase. Not because anything has been done to my house itself since the last reval, but because I am easy walking distance from a Midtown Direct train station. It sure seems to have raised the relative values in my fairly humble (for Montclair) part of Montclair.

  48. I’m also in a fairly humble (for Montclair) part of Montclair, but I’m not walking distance from the train. No significant improvements or updates have been made to the house in at least 20 years. So, I’m trying to wrap my mind around an increase of 4000/year based on that 2.10 figure (a 40% increase). How do they figure? Guess I’ll appeal and find out!

  49. While the common explanation that “overall” the revenue produced from increases/decreases will be the same, I have two questions:
    1. The Mayor of Glen Ridge, who has already discussed issues related to the reevaluation in Montclair, has stated that Montclair’s portion of the County assessment could rise, thus increasing your taxes and
    2. These numbers are sooooo complex, how do we know some “innocent mistakes” might happen and the reevaluation becomes an opportunity for money raising for the town? After all, the Sewer Authority still doesn’t rest well with many (Oh, and did I also mention the Parking Authority?)

  50. I love the mass hysteria! People NO ONE knows what the new tax rate is. We are all on a need to know basis and the town government doesn’t feel that any of us need to know jack.
    Wait for an official notice from the town on the new tax rate before deciding your new taxes are gonna run you out of town!

  51. We all know the new tax rate is still an unknown and no one is exactly hysterical. I think we’re simply speculating on the ramifications if the new rate is as suggested by a couple of the posters (1.50 or 2.10).
    The bottom line is that no matter what the new tax rate is, some people’s taxes may go up dramatically and some may go down dramatically. There is every reason to believe that an increase for some people may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
    While Montclair may be home to a suburban elite, it is also home to many who are just barely getting by — who love the diversity and vibe of Montclair, but may not be able to afford to be a part of it in the future.

  52. If the rule in real estate is still “location,…” Our area in Montclair is near one of the new midtown direct, however, the Township allows flagrant abuse the Code and Safety ordinances – loitering on Pine & Glenridge, debris on Maple Avenue (Jefferson’s and adjacent properties)loitering and worse in the County park and surrounding area.
    Do tax evaluations consider such government neglect that diminishes enjoyment and sales price of property?

  53. SELL SELL SELL………………Montclair is changing fast and not for better and taxes’s will always go up. When was last reassessment? Did I hear 20 years.? They should go up with prices’s of homes. 40% actually sounds fair if not low.
    Happy New Year

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