Cary Africk: What Does This Reassessment Really Mean?

As I understand things, people should be getting their reassessment letters this week.

I have already heard from several people who have had dramatic reductions in assessment since 2006. Their new numbers were 40% lower!

While most would initially think this “terrific,” at some point I believe too low an assessment will put negative pressure on home prices. After all, if you had a 2006 assessment at $800,000, but you realistically thought you could get no more than $650,000 for your home, hearing that your assessment went down 40%, to under $500,000, is sure going to make it more difficult to sell your house for $650K.

Of course, maybe I just don’t “understand” the real estate market. But then again I did check this logic out with one of my Realtor sources.

At the other end of the spectrum, I have heard of a half dozen assessments that stayed exactly the same!

Upon further investigation, I have learned that the ONLY statistic on the new reassessment is the average decline, leading to an INITIAL calculation of the new tax rate.

It turns out that the average decline is 19%, which means the tax rate needs to come up by that amount to keep everything even. Until, of course, the new budget comes out, which will have who knows what an increase.

So say the tax rate is going up about 20%.

That means the taxes on the homes whose reassessments stayed the same will go up 20%.

That’s BIG money. There are many homeowners paying $20,000 who will now have to pay $24,000. Or homeowners paying $30,000 who will now be paying $36,000.

So I am now calling for an analysis of what this reassessment means. To ALL of us.

I am disappointed that no such analysis has been done. The attitude I’ve heard is “Well, it’s just reality.”

How DO the changes affect us? Let’s see some statistics on homes of various price ranges. And let’s see some statistics based on geography.

My intent on pushing for a reassessment was for things to be FAIR. In all honesty I expected most homes to see a reduction, unless an appeal had recently been done,

I did NOT expect to see 20% increases, or 40% decreases.

And for those who think, “So what, the increases are probably only for the million dollar homes” I need to say that anything that makes Montclair less attractive to any income group hurts us all, in the end.

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124 COMMENTS

  1. Wait a second Cary… Weren’t you the one who was huffing and puffing to get this reassessment completed? If you hired a competent reassessment firm, why wouldn’t you trust the numbers they came up with?

    Oh wait, I think I probably know the answer… I suspect that people in your ward, where housing values have stayed relatively the same since the downturn in the market overall, are howling mad that they will now be paying a larger share of the overall pie. Pitchforks and torches? I thought so.

    You can’t have it both ways Cary. You wanted the reassessment, you got it. You’re not happy with the numbers? Tough nuts.

  2. Dear Relaxed

    I haven’t the slightest idea what the reassessment numbers will turn out to be, either in my ward, or any other.

    I have heard from a handful of people, throughout the township, with low and high numbers.

    Think again, relax. Find some other reason to attack me.

  3. If this town’s administration doesn’t change radically (for the better) and the tax situation doesn’t change, the real estate market here will tank. Not just decline, but tank. Tumbleweeds will be the only things moving in!

  4. “I haven’t the slightest idea what the reassessment numbers will turn out to be”

    —then what is the purpose of your article?

  5. Cary,

    Your grandstanding is getting tiresome, even to those who would be inclined to support you.

    If you don’t have the “slightest” idea about the numbers yet, and have heard from only a “handful of people”, then why the editorial propping up a problem you don’t know even exists yet?

  6. I the 19% an average of the decreases, or the decrease in the valuation of the whole city? This is a dramatic difference, but I have not seen mine yet.

  7. ” Until, of course, the new budget comes out, which will have who knows what an increase.”

    Yes, it is frightening to think about how much of our money this bunch of bozos on the town council would like to spend, too much of it to no good effect, especially in an election year.

    But what about the matter of Governor Christie’s new law limiting town’s real estate tax increases to two percent per year? How naive am I in hoping that might be a constraint on these mad fools?

  8. Analysis is something that is done in many walks of life, Cary, as I’m sure you know. People educated in the ins and outs of numbers look at data, use the tools of mathematics and economics to discern trends and estimate the impact of a change in policies and so forth. It’s a familiar and oft told story. It has no relevance to the debate over the town reassessment, however.

    The fundamental laws governing the particular microverse known as the Township of Montclair have always been obscure, and will always remain so. This is through no fault of any of our councilors or mayors or citizens. It is so because Montclair happens to exist in a peculiar zone of existence in which the ordinary laws of logic, mathematics, physics etc do not apply. (Think of it as a tear in the fabric of spacetime just large enough to fit 39,000 people.) Even the supposedly universal rules of mathematics are suspended in this world. Two plus two does not equal four. Cause does not lead to effect. Even the arrow of time does not carry us inexorably forward, but rather often loops back on itself, causing us to repeat events of the past, or to skip forward into the future and run backwards to the present.

    I know this sounds like gobbledegook. To plumb the nature of the Montclair microverse requires an entirely new mode of thought, perhaps even new brain structures. Evolution may one day give us the mental apparatus to understand, but for now we can only grope dimly toward this new thinking, like a dog trying to read the New York Times or predict the behavior of an adolescent boy.

    Given our limitations, the proper way to approach the issue is on our knees, with awe for the Creator of All Things.

  9. What a recipe for disaster, and what a lunatic exercise if the outcome was preordained in that tax rates would simply be raised to maintain the needed revenue. I once made a terrible miscalculation when moving my family here almost twenty years ago. Taxes were so high on a relative basis to neighboring communities, and home prices so low, that I thought that logic dictated that this obvious imbalance would even itself out. It didn’t, and it doesn’t look like it ever will. The town is broken in many ways, and all our elected officials can do is dither over inanities. Sure there is a light at he end of the tunnel, but it is the oncoming train. Mtcmom is absolutely correct in her post above.

  10. Cary,
    Can you shed light the following?
    1) reassessment focus was on land portion readjustment, but letters did not break land v. improvements. How do you argue one’s figure without this basic info?
    2) letters were suppose to be out 4 weeks ago and appointments this week. letters only went out last week. we waited how many years and we get less to than a week to research & make an appointment – much less find available professional help this week.?
    3) will township publish all property numbers to Township web site, both residential and commercial, now and when final numbers are sent to the County?
    Thank you.

  11. Got mine last week, and, as I am one of Cary’s many Facebook friends, I am one of the people he mentions whose value went down nearly 40%. I know my taxes will go down quite a bit, which makes me very happy. Still, it gives me pause to see that my house is now supposedly worth only $65K more than we paid for it in 1993.

  12. Don’t you understand, people? We don’t know what will happen. We cannot possibly know the consequences of our actions. We are mysterious to ourselves. We are mere flotsam and jetsam on the rip tide of life.

  13. Roo, I admire your philosophical insights. Ordinarily, one can only gain such wisdom after having suffered some terrible ordeal, such as a home renovation, that necessitates interaction with the tax assessor.

  14. What is truly sad is how few people actually understand the whole assessment process. There is really no controversy here. I’m guessing the realization that your house is not nearly worth what you hoped it was worth is the real tragedy for most. More than is common in most towns I have lived in, Montclair has this attitude that their town is really different and somehow isolated from the issues impacting so many of its neighboring towns. Perhaps it’s years of listening to elected leaders claims that every spending decision is necessary to maintain Montclair’s lofty property values. Guess what? Your house has dropped in value just as much as your friends houses in Bloomfield and Verona. Remember this when Fried, in a lame duck election year chooses to restore funding to the fire department, the library and the pre-k in the name of maintaining Montclair’s elevated property values.

  15. Montclair IS different. Sure there was some significant price appreciation a few years ago but not on par with many other communities, and for most of my twenty years here the local market lagged some pricier neighboring towns badly. The issues were always our high taxes, sketchy schools, and the perception that the town was generally a left wing utopia, which is surprisingly not universally appealing. Basically, if you were to sell your house here and attempt to buy the equivalent home in Morris or Somerset County, for example, it would be a major cash-in trade. I feel sorry for anyone that, absent an accident of timing during a real estate mania, ever held out high hopes that buying a house in this town was a wise decision from a purely financial perspective. Then again if you buy in to the canard that this is some wonderland populated by artists and intellectuals and underpinned by a unwavering commitment to diversity, broadly defined, then stop complaining and get on board the crazy train.

  16. uh…whatever happened to this $$$?

    Montclair Schools Have $5.7 Million Surplus
    BY Debbie Galant | THURSDAY, NOV 03, 2011 11:30AM | COMMENTS (6)

    Hold onto your hats! Montclair Schools business administrator Dana Sullivan told an astonished school board last night that it had $5.7 million left over from the 2010-2011 school year. That’s enough to throw a whole lot of pizza parties.
    The bulk of the surplus came from out-of-district tuition and 41 teachers retiring. The surplus will go towards property tax relief.

  17. Well the Mayor can stop pretending that the problem is tax appeals, as opposed to actual decline in real estate values. The assumption that the town should just increase taxes by 20% is absurd.
    Cut spending across the board. Hiring freezes, mandatory departmental budget reductions. Stop overspending and pretending. The reassessment should not change property values, it’s just a snap shot of were the values stand. But a 20% tax rate increase will make the town less attractive relative to others, and that WILL impact real estate values.

  18. This will be interesting. I guess this means all those people who appealed will now have a bigger tax bill again?

  19. Yes it will get interesting, gurl.

    I appealed in 2011. I asked for my assessed value to be lowered, I proposed a number that I knew was very (and unrealistically) low. The town made a counter offer that I jumped at because it was lower than I was expecting to have to settle for. My taxes for 2011 came down a good deal.

    I got my letter today, and the appraised value is even lower than my initial proposal for last year. I expect the town will have to raise the mill rate, but I have a hard time seeing how they can now get me to pay more in real estate taxes than I paid for 2011.

    Cary?

  20. Cary doesn’t know because he doesn’t have the “slightest” idea about the numbers yet, and has heard from only a “handful of people”.

    But he was compelled to write a Chicken Little article.

    And he is heroically going to get to the bottom of things, by golly!

    Meh.

  21. My assessed value is well below market value, even in this market. My house has also already had one appeal since the last assessment and came down significantly and It looks as though this time they under evaluated deliberately.The mill rate will change and I’m betting that everyone’s taxes will go up because everyone’s home is now assessed below market value so that will put an end to the downward appeals and who would be crazy enough to appeal upward? Will anyone really come forward and and claim the assessment is wrong because it’s too low?

    Years ago, having a lower town “assessed” value wasn’t a negative because it meant the taxes were lower and for a long time real values rose well above assessed values. Now, I think it will have a negative impact on anyone trying to sell a home in this market – why pay $750,000 for a home assessed at $600,000? With a tax bill of $18k?

    I would like to think the township was shrewd with this one….thinking they’ll show all those pesky citizens who appealed or are thinking about appealing. But since they never seem to know what they’re going it’s not likely. It would be great to get an expert’s point of view.

  22. The objective is a fair, market value, assessment of our homes.

    I’ve seen little “analysis” on where the market has gone since the “peak.” I’ve seen “average” prices, but no data on how market segments have moved. I’m sure they haven’t all moved the same, and I do know there’s “outliers” that defy easy explanation.

    Is it possible to look at, say, homes within price ranges and then be able to say, “home prices in the $500K to $700K” segment have lost 15% since the height of the market, or since 2006? and “home prices in the $700K to $1MM ranges have lost XYZ%?” etc, etc.

    Then, we should look at the new assessment and once again segment 2006 assessments by price range and see where they are in 2011. How many have seen increased assessments? Decreased? What is the “average” amount in those segments?

    I HAVE TO believe this data exists.

    Are we that determined to “hide” the situation that we won’t look at the reality of the data?

    I was sent along a comprehensive analysis that was done in the last revaluation, 2006. It was done at the request of the then Town Manager, Joe Hartnett.

  23. It’s not meant at all critically, but I look at Cary Africk’s picture above and I’m reminded of WABC’s former morning DJ, Herb Oscar Anderson. Or, more recently, 101.5’s weekend oldies guy, “Big Joe” Henry.

  24. No, Cary. You can’t group houses together just by price range. We’re talking about real estate and the three most important things are….

    (Say it with me, class.) Location, location, location.

    I met with the firm hired to perform the town-wide re-evaluation in 2006, and I was impressed at how they went about defining neighborhoods, and making sure assessments made sense when you looked at similar properties nearby.

    Two houses in different parts of Montclair have similar values at one point in time, but they may not be equally affected by the market in general. One may have a feature like central air installed, while the other has a senior center open up next door.

    Oh, wait, That can’t happen. Never mind.

  25. Cary,

    Who is “hiding” this “data” from “you”? Are “you” just “making up” some “conspiracy” in the “hopes” of “stirring” the “pot”?

    Remember, it was “you” that was “hellbent” on making “this” happen.

  26. Yeah, well, I’m not thrilled with the picture either … for one thing, I lost about 25 pounds since then and people tell me the picture makes me look like a porker.

    Walt, yes I agree that location is very important and clearly should figure into things, but surely we need SOME analysis? I’ll post the analysis done in 2007. It shows increases (by total number of houses)broken down by range of increases, and similar data for decreases.

    And, no, “someone” isn’t hiding the analysis, but hey, shouldn’t there be some numbers other than a town wide average, i.e. a single number?

  27. I’m furious! My assessed value has dropped far below the worth of the house but my taxes are going to go up. This is madness.

  28. Oddly enough, my new assessed value is just about what I would think the house is worth in this crappy market (though I’d hate to have to put that theory to the test at this moment). From this I infer that my actual taxes are going to jump up pretty dramatically, judging from how low other people seem to think their new assessed values are.

  29. Of course, ‘gurl. I mean 20 percent bing bang boom right away over and above the ridiculous increases the inept leadership will no doubt continue to impose on us until time itself stops.

  30. Seems like a time for a moratorium on reassessments. Montclair has always been slap happy for re-vals, one reason why I moved out. Just tell Mr. Christie your taking it slow for awhile during the re-recession, I’m sure he’ll understand.

  31. ‘roo, i’m just using neighborhood sales and zillow as the approximate values and I’m assessed 25% below the current zillow numbers. Check that out and see how you compare.

  32. Cary, are you trying to reinvigorate more tax appeals? The “analysis” has been done. It was done by the firm the township hired to do it. That’s the township’s position on home values. Period.

    Any other official analysis or even half-cocked analysis done by a council member or sanctioned committee would only create the wiggle room for additional tax appeals.

    “according to Councilor Africk’s analysis of the revaluation, I’m being over-taxed.” I can hear it now.

    So please stop.

    The revaluation is done. It’s the township’s position on your home value. Any citizen or group of citizens should feel free to do their OWN analysis and if they feel unfairly treated, appeal their taxes in the usual manner.

  33. We just got our assessment today. Jersey girl I am really confused now — you are assessed 25% below zillow assessment on your house, we are assessed by the town 13% ABOVE zillow. Our new assesssment is 14% below 2006 assessment — how does that compare for you? Zillow isn’t going to determine your taxes, comparative to ’06 will drive your taxes.

  34. Hey, does the new number refer to the land only, or does it include the improvements too?? Cuz mine is gonna make my bank squirm! 😉

  35. Our new assessment is 10 pct above zillow, 5 pct below previous assessed value. Which by Cary’s reckoning means our taxes are headed up by roughly 15 pct over and above whatever yearly increase our civic leaders choose, in their wisdom, to impose.

  36. Comparing your new assessments to Zillow is a waste of time. If you want to get an accurate gauge of what your taxes will look like simply open your wallet, remove all of the bills and then you’ll have a good idea. There’s talk of increasing the funding to the library, the fire department, etc. How? Well don’t put it past these inept buffoons on the Montclair town council to hide these spending increases behind the reassessment.

  37. My understanding is that the township of Montclair is going to increase the tax rate on assessed values to approximately 3% from roughly 2.5% to make itself whole as a result of the decline in property values. At 3%, a Montclair homeowner will likely pay materially more in property taxes than in mortgage payments for a 30 year loan. As such, there is little hope that anyone owning a home in Montclair will build equity and a real risk they will suffer an erosion in value and loss of equity.
    Higher tax rates will drive down home values even further. As residents, we suffer some of the highest tax rates in NJ, one of the most severely taxed states in the country. Here’s an idea: How about Montclair keep the tax rate at the current percentage of 2.5% and, instead of raising taxes to make itself whole, the Township cut its budget to keep the taxpayers whole!

  38. To reiterate:

    If the overall assessment of the Town is going down by 19%, and the tax RATE is going up approximately the same amount, i.e. about 3.1%, your taxes will remain the same if YOUR assessment goes down by 19%.

    If your assessment stays the same, your taxes INCREASE by about 19%, and if your assessment goes up your taxes will increase MORE than 19%.

    Of course, none of this takes into account the likely INCREASE in spending, which will probably throw another 3 percent or so onto your taxes.

    Cary Africk
    2nd Ward Councilor

  39. Unless bold action is taken, taxes will go up and services will decline.

    It’s math.

    Every year expenses go up. Most Municipal and BOE expenses are salary. Union contracts provide for increases. Health insurance, utility, and other costs keep going up.

    Revenue (taxes) stay the same or, more likely, goes down.

    All towns face the same challenge.

    In Montclair the municipality has reduced headcount by something like 10% but the spending is level. One gets to a point where there are no more people to cut.

    Anyone thinking small steps are going to save us, such as using two sides of paper, is just kidding themselves.

    Cary

  40. Can we start by privatizing garbage hauling. Millburn just did it and projects to save $800,000 per year. They also cut weekend recycling drop off to reduce overtime.

    The last time I dropped off my weekend recycling, one town worker was washing his car. Want to bet he was on the clock collecting overtime?

    Forget cutting, start managing. I just tried to email the town CFO with a question I have about the reassessment. It was bounced back.

    Montclair is truly special.

  41. Dissolve the Parking Authority, sell the parking deck to a private concern, and privatize all services for parking enforcement.

    Along with the immediate cash-flow benefit, we would no longer have to contribute to pension obligations for the Parking Authority. By your own reckoning Cary, these unelected authorities are a form of shadow government, or words to that effect.

    Discuss.

  42. I guarantee that if you privatize the parking authority, it will become revenue positive for the town. Our parking rates are twice that of every neighboring town and parking is always in demand. How we can’t make money is astonishing.

  43. “Anyone thinking small steps are going to save us, such as using two sides of paper, is just kidding themselves.”

    And anyone who wants to send over a million on a street scape has no credibility on the topic.

  44. Does anyone know if the 2% annual increase law will have any bearing on the town being able to raise the tax rate the 19% figure that is being thrown around?

    Is the town receiving an exemption a given?

  45. Judging by the BOE’s surplus, I’m pretty sure the municipal portion will be increased at least double digits again ( I think Montclair’s was the highest in Essex County last year). As a matter of fact, I’m willing to bet on it. Any takers? I’ll even give you 2 to 1 odds. There’s already been talk of restoring funding to the library, fire department and pre-K. Considering that it’s a lame duck council (emphasis on lame) and they can hide behind the school surplus, the reassessment and the cost of the storm cleanup… it’s pretty much a done deal. Revenues have never factored into the tax equation in Montclair. If revenues are down, taxes are raised to make up the difference. If revenues are up, taxes are raised because the constituents can afford it. This is the modus operandi of the last three Montclair town councils and will probably be the same with the next town council.

  46. POSTED BY relax people | JANUARY 02, 2012 @ 10:11 AM
    Cary,

    Tell us exactly what you would like to cut. Be specific. Please respond to this, it’s all we really want to hear from any of you on the counsel.

  47. Thanks for the fantastic questions!

    Glenn Rogers presented an overview of the Montclair Parking Authority outlining SPECIFIC things to dramatically improve the financial and service aspects of the Authority. I cannot honestly say whether or not his suggestions have been taken. There is soooooo much waffling going on with regard to the MPA. After Glenn presented his, INDEPENDENT, take on things (which took over a year) the Authority did their own analysis, and the manager then did HIS own analysis. I guess you could say it’s being analyzed and reanalyzed until the status quo is justified.

    I think the MPA needs to be reorganized and a lot of what they’re doing outsourced, as Stu and mistercranetown so cogently state (as usual).

    I am in favor of investigating outsourcing in a comprehensive fashion, such study to be done by an OUTSIDE firm. People say, “well, you’d have to throw lots of functions other than trash pickup into the mix.” I say, “fine.” How about giving all the parks to the County? Joe D is running Anderson, and Presby beautifully. Let the County take ALL the parks. We’re already sending 20% plus of our tax dollars there.

    Privatize garage operations. As residents have pointed out, there are outside firms who will do this.

    Regionalize fire. Why are we arguing whether Bloomfield or Montclair should service Glen Ridge. Why not a three town solution? And WHY can’t we use more volunteers? I believe Bloomfield does!

    Move more administrative police functions to non uniformed positions.

    Outsource engineering. Many projects need specialized expertise and we are outsourcing these anyway.

  48. Great start, thanks for being specific. Now get out there implement just one of these things and I’ll call you a success.

  49. “Let the County take ALL the parks. We’re already sending 20% plus of our tax dollars there.”

    And what effect, precisely, would that have on the taxpayer? Precisely none. Whether the parks are paid for by taxes we pay to the municpality or by taxes we pay which are then passers on to the county. WE, THE TAXPAYER STILL PAY FOR THE PARKS.

    I understand what a local politician wants to pass the park-buck to someone else so it’s off HIS plate, but it will still always be on out plate.

    This is nonsense.

    The “what would you cut?” is exactly the WRONG way to look at this.

    You decide upfront there will be no tax increase and work backward and prioritize. The goal is to have as much government services as we can afford not as much government as we increases taxes for.

    We need to remove this backward thinking from office and get people in who can prioritize and do more than call for studies and ask the populace “what would you cut?”

  50. Damn auto correction:

    “I understand why a local politician wants to pass the park-buck to someone else so it’s off HIS plate, but it will still always be on our plate.

  51. or:

    take PA in-house (Dashield’s report shows very very large numbers for ‘admin’ and ‘cost providing’). BUT – run it as a revenue center with non-union employees so we can compete with the public sector and encourage entrepreneurial talent. Set specific goals and pay significant bonuses if the goals are met. Find a manager with experience in running a performance-based organization. Give current town employees first dibs if they want to be part of a dynamic, business-oriented department. I bet we have people who would like to be part of a group that rewards innovation and success.

    or outsource the parking, as several have suggested. Either is far preferable to the current situation, where we seem to make no money on parking. I suggest the in-house business solution as a way to explore running our government using a performance-based management model. Other towns are looking for solutions. Let’s find out what is working.

  52. It’s a new year. Let’s try a different approach. Let’s increase the budget 15% across the board. Then turn the budget over to the new admin to approve/reject/revise.

  53. Wrong-o ROC,

    The County can take care of the parks better, and more efficiently, than the township. If you live in Montclair, take a look at Edgemont vs. Anderson Park.

    The Town has NO MONEY to take care of Edgemont. Nor does it have sufficient resources in terms of people. Or equipment. Or motivation.

    Taking care of parks can better be done by a larger entity. More equipment, more people, better skills. Larger purchasing power.

    Good thinking, Jinx! I like it!

    In the ’50s, in California, there were non incorporated entities call “Contract” towns. They outsourced everything, and any entity could bid.

    Cary

  54. show me the numbers cary. show us the numbers that the county is spending less on parks than the township.

  55. It’s very simple. Reduce municipal and BOE spending so there is at least a zero growth budget in both areas. Even greater budget reductions from 2011 would be better. Do not accept that there must be a municipal increase.

    How? On the municipal side start to follow the various crisis budgeting ideas put forth by members of OBAC and the CCM. Restructure the debt service in ways proposed by the Capital Finance Committee to reduce interest payments short and long term. Implement the cost-cutting and revenue enhancing ideas of the Glenn Rogers in his review of the Parking Authority. Finally get someone in who knows how to generate economic development and creatively start to bring in more dollars on the revenue side.

    At the BOE, further implement the various resident review committee suggestions there for new revenues and added cuts. Fire the top business staff there immediately for not flagging an $11 million dollar surplus going forward that taxed everyone $1000 more than necessary. Any business that has an $11 million dollar fiscal discrepancy in either direction would get rid of those involved in a flash. Add that to their prior deception and unprofessional actions over the new school costs, land purchases and the waste and miss-management for all projects capital — and it’s very clear who needs to go.

    We can argue the particulars of all this, but that is the kind of game plan the Township needs to have going forward. And it’s not.

    The current Council still does not get that Montclair is in an emergency fiscal situation. Some still don’t see that we can’t operate under business as usual. Continuing to take on more debt to pay basic bills should no longer be acceptable. But it still is.

    Let’s accept that this current group of Councilors are done as a body. All you can expect now is damage control. Start telling your reps that a 20% paper tax increase for anyone today is not palatable and they must find drastic cuts for 2012 to reduce that.

    Once the budget hearings start to heat up, I predict total resident havoc given the continued refusal by some on the Council to see what a 20% tax increase could have on prices at the upper end of the real estate market.

    We are moving to the point of direct head to head confrontations. It’s those across the political spectrum who understand the dire financial straights we’re in against those on the Council and on the municipal staff who still do not feel or do not really understand what’s happening out there.

  56. Of course they don’t understand it Martin. Fried says things are different as he let go a few part time staffers. At the company I work for, we have lost 40% of our staff since 2007, to match our 40% drop in revenue. Our benefits have been slashed and my salary has increased less than 2% total during the last five years. Our latest downsizing was two weeks ago. And you know what? Our entire workforce understands that it is a necessary evil. Same holds true for our executives compensation. As a matter of fact, their salaries have been cut as well, many by 20% or more. It’s for the survival of the company. We all get this. The town council does not get that 1 out of every 5 dollars collected goes to pay for debt service. If Montclair was a private entity, it would be bankrupt by now. I truly hope that the people of Montclair wise up. The lack of outsourcing sanitation is a fine example of everything that is wrong with Montclair. It is an absolute no brainer and the council refuses to even explore the option. The council needs to manage the town manager and the town manager needs to manage the municipal staff. Instead, it’s a giant love-fest where the mere idea of making budgets and staffs match revenues is not even a consideration. I can only hope that the massive drop in real estate values, now evident with the recent reassessment letters hitting Montclair homes provide the wake-up call the town so desperately needs. Montclair is a great town with a unique culture. It can continue to be, but not if it doesn’t reverse the last twelve years of complete and utter fiscal mismanagement. Hopefully, the Wildwood Tract development will be the last completely irrational and fiscally dumb mistake the town will make.

  57. martinscwartz,right of center, …well said…We need to continue looking at the BOE expenses. We can’t even make the top 50 or 100 list best HS in NJ and how much of our taxes are allocated to BOE???… we need to STOP allowing the entrance of non montclair residents in our our school systems ,…Last year’s initative should be an ONGOING process to identify these individuals who are stealing services that we are paying for…And yes lets look at the municpal expenses…one of the Deputy Chief of police has recently announced his retirement…Why do we need 2 Deputy of Police and a Chief and lets not mention the layers of captains, lientants, seargeants…I am 200% in support of the police force and DO NOT want to see any more cuts in this area especially since we have existing GANG MEMBERS all around us in MTC-however lets utilize this opportunity not to hire another deputy but reallocate the funds to create a police task force to address the crime in montclair. With now dramatically reduced property values and steady crime we will NOT be any different than the Oranges, Newark, etc.

    Cary, Dahsfield, and other Council members …The citizens of montclair want to see where the majority of the expenses are being allocated ..We should:
    -completely abolish the Pre-k funding
    -Reduce town library to 1
    -outsource the sanitation services( all they do is throw my garbage cans around anyway …LOL!!!)
    -consolidate fire services with Glenridge and recruit for more volunteers with pension incentives
    -Do not backfill the recent deputy chief opening but reallocate some of the savings to address the crime…..Fellow residents dont be blind this is issue we have CRIME!!!!!!…DO NOT CUT anymore police services
    -Reduce adminstrative positions in the BOE , continue with the re-registration process
    -STOP spending our tax dollars of these INCOMPETENT firms …you’ve spent thousnds of dollars on getting the montclair home re-assed and STILL their incorrect…One firm overinflated some of the montclair properties based on the height of the real estate market ( did they think that type of overbidding was going to last forever -thay should have allocated for the bubble in the market …The second firm now dropped our property value to more than 25% in some cases ….only caused more FURIOUS residents who are now underwater with their mortgage company based on the new assements and facing the FACT thay taxes WILL increase!…STOP WITH THE INCOMPETENCE!!!!!

  58. Before everyone gets too excited about the Zillow values let me share our story. After reading the posts here I went to ZIllow and saw that our house was listed as having two extra bedrooms, 10% fewer square feet and was built 13 years earlier than anyone elsse in Montclair seems to believe. Besides that it was right on point.

    As for the suggestion about the town, why stop at regionalizing fire? Why not regionalize all of the town management? What if we combined all of the various town departments? We could really drive some savings by eliminating redundant staffing. Just a thought.

  59. ok so Zillow works for you- ..if you’re ok with incorrect information being utilized to assess your home value..Congrats!…I am not..the council spent our dollars for a firm to not even given a a breakdown of the land and building assesment…I find it odd that my new assessment is the exact amount that my neighbor tried to sell their house for ( which was going to be a LOSS for them since they were divorcing)…Is that the comp that was used to determine my new assessed value??? ..I brought my house based on the comps in my area and 3 bank appraisal ( which I paid for to ensure the value was truly there )- even though the assessment on my house was still under the amount I purchased the house for …now the new assesment says Ive lost approx 200k in 4 yrs and my taxes will increase, Crime continues and we keep cutting vital services…something is wrong…Yes i agree there is redundant staffing that needs to be reviewed and SOME services need to be privatized however as a MTC taxpayer I do not want ALL services such as the police force , BOE ,etc to be regionalized…We will lose more services!!!…We need to take a closer look at where the expenses are and CUT the layers in certain areas!..

  60. Not to be a Debbie Downer on what your new tax bill will be, but to calculate the new rate, it’s not a simple 19% increase to the current one. Assuming that the total valuation went down by 19%, to make the reassessment revenue neutral, the math works as follows: you need to divide the current tax rate 2.56 by .81 to get a new tax rate of 3.16. This is a proportion, not strict multiplication.

    Under the old rate 100 dollars of valuation returned $2.56 in tax revenues. With the new assessment, 81 dollars of valuation now needs to return the same $2.56. You actually need a tax rate of 3.16 to match the old revenue. Then add the projected 3% increase Cary mentioned, that would make the 2012 tax rate around 3.254. Multiply that by your new assessment to see what your 2012 taxes will likely be.

    The equivalent tax rate will be subject to change until after the informal meetings that Realty Appraisal will have with taxpayers – it’s possible assessments could decrease further during these meetings, so there could be a slight additional shift downward in ratables.

    Here are the effective tax rates for 2010 for all of Essex County. The only towns with effective tax rates of over 3% are East Orange and Irvington.

    https://www.essextaxboard.com/pdfs/2010EffectiveRates.pdf

    https://www.essextaxboard.com/pdfs/2010EffectiveRates.pdf

  61. OK folks, put down the pitchforks and flaming torches …..

    If we can find things to do that will work and accomplish our goals I’ll lead the charge.

    But there is a reality …..

    Did you see above where I said over the last four years the town laid off FORTY people and then managed to keep spending FLAT?

    Given the labor contracts, and the rise in expenses like INSURANCE, the spending can’t be cut without changing things dramatically from an organizational viewpoint.

    There are no more people to lay off with the system as it is.

    The only good suggestions I’ve seen, really good suggestions have been those of Glenn Rogers, an INDEPENDENT consultant.

    If some think the Municipality can be reorganized to run at dramatically lower costs we aren’t go to figure how on this blog. It is going to take outside consulting help, from people who have done this sort of thing before, to make this happen.

    People have come to me with outstanding credentials. People like Glenn, from major firms who have offered to do this work at no cost to the town.

    That is what it is going to take.

    And just like we are not going to improve things via this or any other blog, we are NOT going to improve things by firing those that posters think should be fired.

    I believe EVERYONE in the BOE, other than the Superintendent, is protected either via tenure, or contract. And, last time I checked only 20 of the 400 town employees were non union.

    And remember, we don’t decide who to fire based on what posters think, or for that matter what the Council thinks.

    Let’s decide on a few things that will work, in a BIG way.

  62. (we’ve played this game many times before. Cary makes some outlandish claim. I ask what the claim is based upon. He ignores the question.)

  63. You are being ridiculous, ROC, and you know it.

    There are no numbers for things like “How much does it cost the Country to run a park?” or “How much does it cost the town to run a park?”

    Are you SURE you aren’t the Mayor in disguise?

    We are trying to work on problems. Year after year all you work on is trying to discredit me.

    Do you see anyone else on the Council engaging in a dialog here?

    Focus on the problem. Not on the personality.

  64. Cary, Unfortunately it is squarely within the cohort of those employees heretofore having benefitted from the protections of union membership and tenure where the bulk of the waste, redundancy, and inefficiency are hiding in plain sight. The argument that the rules of economics apply to everyone except those in a certain protected caste cannot be held as rigidly sacrosanct if we are to make any headway in solving this fiscal dilemma. The argument that the “rich” should simply pay more sounds like a nice easy solution, but what is stimulating this discussion is the impact of failed, feel good, policies upon a broad swath of your constituents. The drama playing out in our community is a reflection of that in our broader society. The fact of the matter is that the statistically largest group of individuals in town, the middle class homeowners, are getting hammered. Interestingly, a majority of these individuals are committed to high tax liberal policies, but are now screaming as they are being forced to open their checkbooks to fund the town’s fiscal graveyard spiral. It’s nice to wrap oneself in the warmth of liberal and progressive ideals, but what we’re getting here is a dose of reality, and the sooner that people realize that the medicine doesn’t always taste good, the better. I’ll bet that many of these people didn’t even realize that they had unlimited resources of wealth.

  65. the problem Cary is that you seem to consider the making of baseless assumptions and claims to be worthwhile “engagement”. I consider it to be posing. The fact that you would suggest giving our parks to the county based on nothing more than a shoot-from-the-hip assumption proves the point. This town has maintained both its obligations and its parks for what? A hundred and thirty years?

    The problem is not the parks. The problem is a lack of leadership and competence in fiscal
    management.

  66. Deadeye,

    You are so right. There is absolutely nothing stopping Montclair’s town council from making adjustments to benefits per se. If the unions says no, then cut the heads necessary to maintain the benefits at their current lofty levels. I would kill for those benefits, and I’m sure the town could find plenty of former private sector workers currently unemployed who would happily take the jobs without the union backing with the scaled down perks. Unfortunately, the progressive thought on this is that if you reduce benefits in the public sector, then the private sector will quickly follow suit. Funny, it seems to be working the other way around. Do you know anyone recently hired that has a pension? Or healthcare sans copays? Or that pays less than 25% for their healthcare coverage? In Montclair, they love their public workers to the point where so many will end up terminated as will Montclair’s public services. Montclair is not a charity. It is just incredible that no one sees that every recent progressive act, like the sale of the Wildwood tract, is another nail in Montclair’s middle class coffin. As would have been the Senior Care purchase and the Wayfinding signs as well as the South Park project too.

  67. ROC,

    You mean those guys who sit in an idling truck with the town logo on the door and sip coffee and read the paper from 7 to 8am?

  68. “There are no numbers for things like “How much does it cost the Country to run a park?” or “How much does it cost the town to run a park?”

    Nor are there precise numbers for how much the South Park Street Project will cost, eh, Cary?

    Therein lies the problem.

  69. deadeye,

    You are right on target. I agree with you!

    ROC, take a look at Anderson Park. Then go look at Edgemont. The former is run by the County. Also take a look at Presby. Also run by the County.

    Edgemont Park, a block from my house, has suffered from disgraceful neglect. The pond isn’t being worked on in spite of a GRANT (i.e. no cost to the Town) that the prior manager, FOUR YEARS AGO, obtained to do this work. Drainage needs $1MM worth of work, the “boathouse” smells from who knows what and is disgusting, there’s no parking for the Handicapped who might want to actually use the new playground, there have been no trees planted in the last four years there and the existing trees are of one species, and I could go on and on.

    I’m beginning to think, ROC, more and more, that you are REALLY the Mayor, or a clone!

    Stu, as usual you are also right on! I’ve valued your judgements for years.

    Cary

  70. What we need is some fracking in town. We’re sitting on a lot of natural gas, here in the USA.
    Energy independence for Montclair = more jobs, more prosperity and lower taxes !

  71. Who supports fracking Spiro? Some of us have managed to think for ourselves rather than simply follow the party line like one of Pavlov’s dogs.

  72. “ROC, take a look at Anderson Park. Then go look at Edgemont. The former is run by the County. Also take a look at Presby. Also run by the County.”

    The county run parks look much better. I agree. Which leads me to believe they probably spend MORE taxpayer money than the township to keep them up not less. And since the source of the funds no matter what is our poket books, my assertion still stands.

    Why should an irvington resident pay taxes for Edgemont park? When county money gets tighter do you want Newark residents deciding park budget priorities controlling Edgemont park? Should we just join the city of Newark to relive the council of all these myriad budgeting headaches?

    Let’s, rather, elect an entirely new and competent council including the mayor and manage our own parks and our own taxes .

  73. Cary,
    Are we talking about the same County that refuses to put a crosswalk on a County road at the Presby/Mountainside County facility because they are waiting for the Township to request it and the Township insists there is already one there?

  74. We have the government we elected — not each of us but collectively. Tell all of your friends to pay attention and vote. I’d rather see cuts in police and fire than any more tax increases.

  75. Comparing Edgemont to either Presby or Anderson is ludicrous.

    Anderson Park has one of the strongest backings of volunteers I have ever seen!(Presby is a close, if not, equal second) I know because i participate in multiple yearly clena-ups and donate monies that plant the new trees. The volunteers (Friends of Anderson Park) have followed the “original master plan” and used sweat equity to get it done. The county cuts the grass and sometimes plows the walk ways when there is snow.

    Please the county probably spends little to no money at this site! I had to call and complain for two weeks straight for them to replace the Flag.

    Ask Fran from Presby about volunteers and donations. They have a tremendous following there!

    Edgemont on the other hand is a different setting. Its volunteer groups are not like the others. Probably because the school uses massive portions of the park all the time. Also the fields are in use by sports most of the year. Plus as Frank Rubbecky mentioned, the last time Edgemont Pond was “fixed” the materials used were crapola! Kinda like Tony’s Brook that the town failed to fix even after spending millions. People who use teh parks need to help with them, on a voluntary basis, people taking pride with whats around them!

    Poor examples Cary, Edgemont is not like Anderson or Presby, all Joe D did for Anderson was those retarded over priced wooden signs around the park! Same goes for Presby!

  76. If they are just using the data from 2006 and essentially making an across the board adjustment downward to reflect the 20% drop in the market, it seems the benefit of the reassessment is to eliminate an unfair reward for many of those who bothered to appeal. Under the reassessment rule, I think to successfully appeal you are supposed to show your property is over-assessed even adjusting for the market dowturn since 2006. But, based on what I’ve heard from those who successfully appealed, I suspect this market adjustment was not really happening, so those who bothered to appeal were getting a reassessed value based on the current market value, which of course is lower than the 2006 assessment for everyone. If this is what in fact was happening with appeals (and I just suspect rather than know this for a fact), it was unfair and inefficient, because it rewarded those who bothered to appeal (and their lawyers) even if their 2006 assessment was dead at the time, and required the entire town to appeal household by household to avoid being on the losing end of this bargain.

    Beyond this, disclosure of what formulas were used would make it pretty easy to assess winners and losers in the rassessment process, at least in general. For example, was there a default market adjustment (say, take 2006 assessment x .81) and if so was it the same for all neighborhoods and price ranges? If not, tax burden will generally be shifted according to differences in the adjustment (i.e. if the market for $1 mm homes south of Bloomfield has fallen 25% but only 20% for all other homes (just making this up), then tax burden will shift from estate section taxpayers to others).

  77. Yup those signs are retarded. Dumbed down aesthetics. A little glitter, some fake stone, and, suddenly, too many people think they are looking at a high quality piece of show.
    It’s like the signs are wearing their version of rented tuxedos. But, like participants at a crass bar mitzvah party, the signs benefit from screwdrivers to keep themselves from falling apart.

  78. jben – the adjustment was not 20% downward across the board. As Cary stated earlier, there are some properties where the assessment will not be reduced at all. My husband and I appealed the old assessment of our property numerous times since 2007. Through our appeals, we reduced our assessment by much more than 20%. We still saw a modest reduction to our 2011 assessment for 2012. The reality is that not all properties have fallen in value equally across town. My husband and I monitored sales for the last two years, not just for our appeals, but as we looked to purchase a new property. Even as late as 2010 and 2011, there were homes in Montclair that were still selling for above their assessed value.

    The purpose of a reassessment is to update the assessments so that everyone pays their current fair share – not just to reduce the assessments so that the numbers are all below market value and have everyone pay the same amount of taxes as they did before.

    The new assessments should be based on 2011 sales in your neighborhood. There is a link on Realty Appraisal’s site to a PDF that lists the comparable sales used for the reassessment numbers.

    https://www.realtyappraisal.net/#!__current-revaluations-copy1/vstc8=montclair/vstc14=sales

  79. The county run parks look much better. I agree. Which leads me to believe they probably spend MORE taxpayer money than the township to keep them up not less.

    Vintage ROC.

  80. Kyle41181,

    You’ve got it all wrong.

    I’ve written about this, EXTENSIVELY, over the years. There are three ingredients to Anderson’s success:

    1. A charismatic leader — Scott Kevelson
    2. An energetic and dedicated volunteer force
    3. A government entity willing to support the effort

    Here’s my background:

    1. I was on the Board of Presby. I was one of those who reached out to Joe Di. We pursued the County Exec to “save” Presby. Presby had run out of money. The County gave A MILLION DOLLARS TO PRESBY!

    2. The County also put in a zillion dollars into Anderson. Drainage, benches, lights, material. The County did an excellent job, and continues to do so.

    3. Scott Kevelson and I go way back and have done a lot of things together. I was there for the “renovation” of Anderson, and Presby.

    The Volunteers at Anderson and Presby are WONDERFUL. I have ALWAYS given them credit.

    Edgemont needs $4MM in funds. This is more than a bake sale. The Town has NO MONEY.

    Cary Africk

  81. Thanks for the info njgator, especially the link to comps they used. I know the goal was just to get the assessments accurate, and not just adjust across the board, but I was speculating if they used a formula to get there. Looks like they did not, but used comps (which makes sense) … I’m curious though, since it sounds like you are expert in the appeal process, am I right that (at least prior to this adjustment) there was inherent advantage in appealing even if the 2006 assessment was spot on, because the new assessment would reflect the general drop in the market since 2006, and thus mean lower taxes relative to someone else with a comparable house at very same 2006 assessment who did not appeal?

  82. jben – Yes. You are correct about that. However, fault lies squarely with the township on this one. They knew the assessments were not defendable and they did nothing to the tune of millions of dollars in losses and budget havoc. I can name about a dozen better run towns that were in the same boat as Montclair, but fixed the problem as early as 2009.

    It should also be noted that it was only for tax year 2011, that the average ratio for the town (ratio of assessment/sales price for all usable sales) went over 100%. For all years prior that number hovered between 95 and 100%. So if you were assessed above market value for any prior year, even if the 2006 assessment was originally correct, you had a legitimate right to appeal, as you were being taxed essentially at a higher rate than your neighbors.

    While assessment numbers generally do not change between revaluations (exceptions of course are for improvements, appeals, etc.), the state has always recognized that property values do not necessarily rise or lower in lock step across the town. This is why the average ratio is calcluated, and the state sets upper and lower limts (15% above and below the average ratio) for defendable assessments. The problem that Monclair had is that the upper limit can never be above the actual market value of the property, so because the 2006 numbers were set at/close to peak, it never got the benefit of a 15% buffer as property values cratered across town. This has been established state law for years and the professionals who manage the town’s tax assessments and finances should have been well aware of it as well as what they could do to rectify the situation.

  83. Cary,
    Edgemont NEEDS $4MM?
    I appreciate that you represent the 2nd ward and it would be nice to have an updated, multi-use field house, handicapped parking lots, etc, but this hardly falls within your definition of an essential need. The Township made choices and the priority at Edgemeont was a state of the art playground over basic maintenance. Fine. But to say now that the park is falling apart and needs $4mm to bring it up to speed, that Montclair has no $ to maintain it and therefore the citizens should relinquish such an asset to the County is crazy. Raze the field house, put in a pond retaining wall that the grant allows and figure out a way to cut the grass. Let’s fix the bigger problems.

  84. Cary,

    I do not have it wrong!

    Benches- They are like $1000 a piece or less, and I believe some of that money was donated and the corresponding plaques for the donation are still there! What was the total cost $10-15,000?

    Lights- They were installed because crime was getting bad.(Robbery and Drug Dealing) Thats the towns fault, and there is a County Officer there maybe, maybe once a week at best. And its during the day, not even at night! And what was the cost for putting the lights in, $100K.

    Drainage- Since you live near it you should know that the drainage does not even work well. All the water flows to the bottom half and goes into Tony’s Brook and then flows under the road into Edgemont Pond, which you claim needs fixing too! Maybe Edgemont Pond needs fixing because some much water is being forced into it that wasn’t for years! Half of the time the water backs up and stands on Claremont/Godfrey/Oakcroft roads. Maybe, just maybe the drainage problem is because there is a 20 FT wall called the TRAIN TRACKS that is stopping the water from flowing correctly. The bottom portion of Anderson Park is unusable for days when the rain comes anyway. Have you seen the drain near the entrance of Princeton Rd. The water never goes down, its a standing puddle 3ft around. If the County spent money on drainage it was an engineering disaster.

    Materials- Please define this, because there are no materials I can see that we as a town do not already use in other areas.

    Maintenance- Lawn care/Plowing is done by County employees. Last year the walk ways in Anderson Park weren’t cleared for over a month! Tree removal is outsourced by county. Montclair could contract and outsource all of these services too. And with the Volunteers(Friends of Anderson Park) doing the multi year clean-ups and plantings we would not need the County. How many trees has Joe Di planted in Anderson or paid for?

    I am in Anderson Park nearly everyday with my son. The county does nothing.

    Presby ran out of money because they had no real plan for “annual giving” programs or memberships/donations for years and years. This is called mis management. The should have been forced to change.

  85. And for those that did not know, when Presby was sold, Essex County only put it $200K, $900K was state Green Acres grant funding.

    All Joe Di did was help secure the Green Acres funding, something that Mr. Hartnett or Montclair Council could have done as well! I get Joe Di waves a big stick because of his influence and he and his buddy Dick Codey were ready for another ribbon cutting event to plaster there faces across the NJ papers with sitting Gov Corzine.

    But if you were the Council or Manager why not dump your work on the County, its easier than actually dealing with the problem.

  86. so we started this discussion talking about money saving cuts. Now Cary tells us he want to give the county a park so they can spend 4 million “we” don’t have (like the zillion they spent on Anderson).

    This is terrific, so the zillion, four million will come from the county tax payers, whoever those suckers are!

    (does everyone see he problem now?)

  87. “$900K was state Green Acres grant funding”

    Only 20 years more to pay back the iris garden loan! Good Job Cary!

  88. njgator or stu,
    can you shed any light on a technical question regarding the impact of our reval on the apportionment of County debt service to Montclair if our total assessed value goes down 20%? Also, would any benefit apply to new debt issues only?

  89. Frank – Is debt service part of the annual county levy? I’m not sure exactly how that works. Theoretically one would expect Montclair’s portion of the overall county levy to go down based on the dramatic reduction in overall town valuation – one would expect that Montclair’s percentage of the county’s overall valuation would be reduced. This is tricky math though and I don’t know exactly how it works. I would imagine that the assumption for the reassessment year is that the assessed valuation will be 100% of market value (which it appears not to be based on anecdotal postings on the internets). Next year there will be an average ratio that can be applied to the overall valuation to equalize Montclair’s values to those of other town’s since the ratio of assessment to true value will differ from town to town.

    https://www.essextaxboard.com/pdfs/2011EqTable.pdf

  90. What is equalization?

    Equalization seeks to insure that each municipality, as a whole, is treated equitably.

    “Equalization is the leveling process by which aggregate assessed values of real property in a taxing district are brought to true value for the purposes of:

    Equitable apportionment of monies used for state school aid.
    Equitable distribution of the cost of county government and shared budgets.
    Thus, equalization in property taxation can mean either ensuring a just assessed value is placed on individual properties as compared to other properties within a taxing district, or that the true value assigned to an entire municipality is fair and just. In both cases equalization is based on assessment sales ratio studies.”

    https://www.essextaxboard.com/equalization.html

  91. Hey ROC, take the long view. Perhaps it will take 20 years to pay back the Iris garden loan, but, hey, we as a nation still enjoy massive windfalls from all that free slave labor down South.
    Charleston and Savannah maintain much of their antebellum ambience, and, as such, remain tourist meccas to this very day, and when consumer confidence is down, we should be happy when anyone spends money anywhere these days. ( oops, I used the mecca word, very Moslem of me, sorry, but I digress…. )

  92. Thanks njgator. If I understand the math, it looks like whatever savings will be significantly offset by the adjusted muni and county tax rates in 2012 and we get also get lower % of any state education funding, to boot. It also looks like the equalization formula normalizes PILOT and possibly special improvement district revenues to full tax levels. So, basically, it is a wash. I should have guessed.

  93. Re: “Retarded” park signs as referred to by Kyle 41181 and Spiro T. Quayle

    Please consider that the use of the term “retarded” is hurtful and offensive to people with intellectual disabilities, their families and advocates. When “retarded” is used as a pejorative it has an effect on attitudes toward all people (children and adults) who happen to be classified as having various degrees of “mental retardation.” Just as any other pejorative term associated with other groups of people, this term has very real implications for children in our schools and everywhere. It’s bad enough when middle schoolers mindlessly use it and their comments go unaddressed, educated adults should think twice. Many of the problems people with cognitive impairments face in life are based not on their “IQ” but on attitudes that people and society have towards them which lead to, among other things, bullying, segregation and discrimination.

    I fully understand that the comments were not intended to hurt or mock people with cognitive impairments, but language has the power to shape perceptions about groups of people. Using the term retarded as it was in these posts reinforces not only that it is ok to use negative terms associated with people with disabilities but also that this group of individuals supposedly lack sufficient aesthetic sensibilities (the quality attributed to the park signs in question).

    For further information on the ongoing movement to end the use of the “R” word,
    See: https://www.r-word.org/

  94. Kyle and Spiro, It only took 105 posts to run afoul of the PC police and cause someone to take offense. While the intellectually challenged are often prolific posters on these threads, your usage of the term at issue was obviously not meant in any pejorative context. Thankfully you didn’t use the terms cretinous, moronic, or idiotic, as I would have taken personal offense, these terms being frequently associated with my postings here.

  95. deadeye,

    inanimate wooden signs with faux rock bases have feelings too!

    i understand me being an evil, hate filled and maniacal conservative, i need to be more thoughtful of the words i choose we talking about government sanctioned signs!

  96. Please, people, calm down and take a deep breath. Can we all just agree that the signs are intellectually challenged?

    This seems to me to be a pretty complete lack of visible light or white issue.

  97. Indeed,deadeye. And, no offense was intended, norman.
    Yet, as of 12:27 PM, I have been allowed to post my insulting description of bar mitzvah parties without a call-out.

  98. Let’s not continue this bit about does/did the County do a good job at Anderson. I believe they did, others don’t.

    And let’s not continue this bit about Green Acres money being “our” money anyway. The County is going to spend the money one way or the other. I’d like them to spend it on Montclair.

    Frank, I’m not proposing that the TOWN put in $4MM in Edgemont. I am proposing, and did propose, that the County take over Edgemont and put County money into it.

    The All Children’s Playground was a VERY expensive project, costing upwards of $400K. There were a LOT of generous contributors who donated money to the project. It gets considerable use. Unfortunately there have been no funds forthcoming for the promised landscaping.

    It is unlikely that the Town will invest money in Edgemont. Every time I ask for a few hundred dollars, to repair a pre-WWII bench for example, I’m told the Council needs to prioritize ALL parks throughout the Town. Maybe that is what happened when the Manager decided to budget $200K for improvements to Canterbury Park to improve their tennis courts. $200K for Canterbury Tennis courts (I mean tennis COURT, singular), not even $100 to repair a bench for Edgemont.

    And again, we have Green Acres GRANTS to cover the cost of the Edgemont Pond repairs. Not a LOAN. A GRANT.

  99. “I am proposing, and did propose, that the County take over Edgemont and put County money into it.”

    Do we not pay County Taxes? Does the County portion of our taxes not continue to rise year over year?

    Whats the point besides less control for Localities and more Big Government. We should be talking about disbanding the counties anyway.

    Cary,

    I bet if you really wanted too, and I am willing to help, we could collect $100 from people at that park and the surrounding houses in one weekend this spring. Probably more. You have my email, reach out, I am all for going door to door or person to person/nanny to nanny and solicit funds for the bench and more! And if we can’t raise the $100 i will flat out donate it… I promise! And i don’t need a fancy plaque with my name on it!

  100. You know what is sad is that Cary on this blog and Fried on Patch make the assertion that if you assessment stayed the same you taxes would go up by 19% but this is simply not true. NJGATOR explained it well, but to correct two of our elected leaders, assuming overall valuation went down by 19%, if your value stays the same your taxes go UP BY 23.5%. Math doesn’t lie, and their mistake doesn’t change what has to be done, but they are misleading and it is shocking that they don’t understand the basic relationship. It also seems like this is a convenient oversight to cushion the blow to those that had appealed and saw the number stay the same. My valuation went down just under 5% and my taxes will increase by 19% before any increases. We need people who tell it like it is and aren’t afraid to make the hard decisions to make Montclair affordable. The spiral continues with the high taxes reducing property values and we will see new appeals once the sales go through based on the new rate.

  101. Cary,
    I knew the ACP was heavily subsidized by donations. I also said grant, not loan. The point I’m trying to get across is that we need to be more realistic about what we can afford, consolidate facilities that we have, and plan better.
    You are making my point for me when we spend six and seven figures on park entertainment at the expense of basic maintenance like a bench to sit on. The ACP is a good start. One facility. Not one one in every ward.
    Give DCS a set amount and have them come up with a park inventory with a 6 year improvement plan like we have for the streets. Let them decide how many swimming pools & tennis courts they can support. Governments have to all spend less and we will have to do with less than what we are used to.
    PS: you might want to ask the CFC to evaluate how the 19% drop in assessed value affects our capital borrowing power.
    I suspect by next winter we will be up to about a third of our state statutory limit and climbing.

  102. My 128 neighbors and I are perfectly content,since as of moments ago–we never received the new assessment for our homes. We will remain delighted or delusional until we hear otherwise.

  103. “And again, we have Green Acres GRANTS to cover the cost of the Edgemont Pond repairs. Not a LOAN. A GRANT.”

    100% incorrect. The green acres fund is 100% funded by a state bond issue – BORROWED MONEY

    The state floats bonds and pays them back over 20 years from taxes collected from state taxpayers.

    (whoever they are, right Cary?)

    We need politicians in office who understand that there is no free money.

  104. Kudos to Carey Africk for engaging in a real discussion and debate on this reassessment issue and particulars.

    You all may not agree with every position or decision that Cary takes, but we should at least be appreciative that he openly engages here, that he’s not closed down to a different fact history and that he at least retains an open mind in formulating his positions. I don’t see anyone else subject themselves to open democracy like this.

    That’s all one can expect from someone sitting on the Town Council. You will never have 100% agreement with anyone — given the complexity of the issues. At least with Cary, there is a high level discussion and dialectic.
    119 comments on this issue alone.

    How about putting away the knives for a second (even you ROC) and wishing Cary good luck for his 2012 Council race — which ever position he chooses.

  105. Assuming a 19% decrease in assessed value and an annual increase of 2% in the budget, the new rate would be around 3.16%. Just an estimate.

    Your Q1 & Q2 payments will already have been paid before the new rate comes out. So to estimate your Q3 & Q4 payments, take you new assessment * 3.16%. Subtract your Q1 & Q2 payments from this new tax amount and divide by 2.

    Don’t hold me to this. Just thought I would share what I was using to estimate my own taxes.

  106. I have no doubt he’s a nice enough and thoughtful fellow. I appreciate his inclination towards discourse. But I’ve come to the opinion he is not an effective councilor. (talk is cheap).

    He means well, but can obfuscate with the best of them when he does not want to discuss his particular pet projects (he never came clean about the south park street budget).

    So I cannot wish him “good luck” for the election as I hope he is not returned to office. It’s nothing personal.

    I think we need:
    a clean slate – all new council and mayor

    Marc Dashield the Township manager should be fired. It’s clear he holds the taxpayers in contempt.

    The Township clerk should be fired. – for the obviously political bungling of the petitions.

    The Township attorney should be fired. – for the obviously political bungling of the petitions.

    The CFO should be fired for failing to properly plan for property tax appeals.

    The Tax Assessor should be fired for the same reason.

    We should pass an broad scoped transparency ordinance.

    We should change the form of our local government to the The Mayor-Council Plan.

    We should institute partisan elections.

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