From the APP:
Homeowners battered by the economy are seeking help in unprecedented numbers from property tax review boards. Nearly 6,000 tax assessment appeals were filed in Monmouth and Ocean counties this year, pushing hearing dates months beyond the normal calendar.
James Stuart, president of Stuart Appraisal Co. in Freehold, said homeowners “are looking at appeals more closely than at any time I’ve seen in over 20 years in the appraisal busi-ness. People see it as perhaps their one shot at having a say about their tax bill.”
Most appeals are unsuccessful. Tax officials said traditionally about a third of the appeals receive reductions. L. Ozzie Vituscka, the Ocean County tax administrator, said the success rate of appeals can top 40 percent “when the housing market is difficult or when a large number of revaluations are updated. The percentage of reductions is different each year.”
Still, a substantial number of area homeowners are willing to plunk down anywhere from $5 to $150 in appeal filing fees. The fees are based on the property valuation amount.
“People are really hurting in this economy, and when they get a tax bill for $9,000, they want to take a shot at knocking it down some,” said Wayne C. Pomanowski, a Monmouth County Tax Board commissioner.
Officials said they forecast a larger number of appeals next year if the slumping housing market doesn’t improve.
The Ocean County board is handling 4,100 appeals this year, more than twice the average appeals heard in previous years since 2000, according to Waxman, who said the number next year could be in the 7,500 to 10,000 range. Waxman said the projection is based on the poor housing market and because revaluations are scheduled to be completed for 2009 in several of the county’s large municipalities.
Clark said Monmouth County also could see an increase in appeals next year. The Monmouth board received 1,800 appeals this year, he said. The number is close to twice the average of previous years since 2000.
The record number of appeals for the two counties — 10,175 in Ocean in 1994 and 7,009 in Monmouth in 1993 — came during that decade’s housing slump.