The latest in a series of question-and-answer sessions intended to help Lawrence Township residents understand the ongoing township-wide revaluation process will be held tomorrow, Thursday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m. at the Lawrenceville Volunteer Fire Co. firehouse on Gordon Avenue.
The first such session was held on Jan. 24. Several more will be held this month. The sessions are being moderated by representatives of the League of Women Voters of Lawrence Township.
As part of the revaluation – which was ordered by the Mercer County Board of Taxation – all properties in the township will be reassessed to full market value in an effort to more-equitably distribute the tax burden. As a result, some owners will see their assessments increase, while others will see their assessments change only slightly or even decrease.
Those new assessments will take effect in 2014. At that same time, since the amount to be raised through taxation cannot change because of revaluation, the municipal tax rate will go down in 2014.
Last September, to Professional Property Appraisers of Delran to appraise all property in Lawrence except Quaker Bridge Mall and its “anchor” stores (J.C. Penney, Macy’s, Lord & Taylor and Sears). Revaluation of those properties will be handled by Mark T. Kenney of Lansdale, Pa., who was awarded a separate $20,000 professional services contract because the township wanted a firm experienced in assessing such large retail establishments.
Representatives of Professional Property Appraisers will visit each property in the township to document its lot and building dimensions, features and amenities – both inside and outside – so the new assessments can be calculated.
If a residential property owner is not home, the Professional Property Appraisers representative will document the exterior features and leave a note advising of the day and time frame when he will visit again to tour the inside. If the owner is away during that second visit, another note will be left asking the owner to call to schedule an appointment – with evenings and Saturdays as options – so that the interior can be viewed.
If the company has not heard back from the owner by August, it will send one final letter asking for an appointment to be scheduled. If the company’s requests go unanswered or if an owner simply refuses to allow an appraiser entry into his or her property, Professional Property Appraisers will use existing information, visual evidence and neighborhood characteristics to make assumptions about the interior features to calculate the new assessment.
The revaluation process started earlier this week when Professional Property Appraisers staff began photographing properties in the southern end of town.