From the Jersey Journal:
Dozens of Downtown residents protested outside City Hall today to call attention to exorbitant tax increases they could see as a result of the citywide property revaluation.
Carrying signs and protesting the new assessments that were released last month on their homes, the residents said their tax bills could double or even triple.
“You’re taking our homes away from us. People who have lived here for 80 years are going to lose their homes,” said Christina Szpala, 55. “The people standing around me are not millionaires. It’s not our fault you’ve built up this city the way you have and given abatements to all these developers. We’re the people you’re supposed to protect and you’re throwing us out.”
This process, the first citywide reval since 1988, is intended to match every property’s assessment — its value on city tax rolls — with its true market value.
The 30-year delay between revals is leading to skyrocketing projected tax hikes, especially Downtown, where property values since 1988 have risen dramatically. In other parts of the city, like Society Hill and Country Village, homeowners have been told to expect dramatic tax cuts.
One man said today his annual tax bill could jump from $7,000 to $16,000, another’s from $10,000 to $30,000.
“This reval is an insult,” said Alexander Caldron. “This is middle class gentrification.”
Szpala and others said local residents could get pushed out as a result. She proposed phasing in the tax increases, adding that “it shouldn’t happen all at one time, say over a 5-year period.”
“We’re all working class people, we don’t have million-dollar incomes,” she said.
Mayor Steve Fulop has said a phase-in is not possible, noting to a group of homeowners at a neighborhood meeting earlier this month that phasing in tax hikes would mean asking other property owners to wait for their full tax cut.
“This is obviously a very, very imperfect situation,” Fulop said then.