From the Star Ledger:
Jerry Auriemma was born and bred in Maplewood.
In 1988, before he married, he bought a newly built home in town. The four-bedroom, 2.5 bath colonial cost $295,000, and had property taxes of about $11,000.
After his marriage, he and his wife Annette decided to raise their family in that same home.
Property taxes rose slowly over the years, and by 2010, the home was valued at $394,000 with property taxes of $18,365.
But that year, the town conducted a reassessment.
“Our house goes from a value of $394,00 to $784,000. Keep in mind, we are in the midst of the biggest financial collapse since the Depression, and my house doubles in value,” Auriemma said. “Our taxes went crazy.”
In three years, his property tax bill went up nearly $9,000 to $27,246 in 2013. That was a monthly increase of about $750.
And money was already tight.
“The town outgrew us financially, we thought, but we didn’t want to uproot our kids,” he said, so they struggled to stay in their home with a non-amortizing mortgage. Fees were expensive, but the loan lowered their monthly payments enough that they could stay put.
Such is life in New Jersey, one might think.
But it wasn’t just general rising prices that challenged the couple’s financial situation.
It was a mistake. A big mistake.
The appraiser hired by the town in 2010 added 660 square feet and an extra top-of-the-line bathroom with two sinks to the home. The Auriemmas had been priced out of their own home — on a mistake.
“I never caught on that something was wrong,” said Auriemma, 60, who lost his job a week after contacting Bamboozled. “Call it ignorance, but it’s now insanity”