Lawrence Township’s tax base has dropped another $7.8 million as a result of 164 appeals filed with the Mercer County Board of Taxation earlier this year by property owners, Township Manager Richard Krawczun announced during the Lawrence Township Council meeting held last week (Sept. 18).
As a result, the township will have to pay out a total of over $353,000 in cash refunds or tax credits to those property owners whose appeals to the county board were successful, Krawczun said, noting that under the law the township is responsible for paying back not just the municipal share but also the school district and county shares of the taxes due to be refunded. Refunds will come from the township's surplus fund, he said.
The total tax assessment of the properties that were appealed to the county board was $61,258,400, and the owners requested a cumulative assessment decrease of $16,774,011, according to a summary of the 164 appeals released by Krawczun.
(This summary can be found on the township’s website or in the Patch media box to the right.)
“The owners request reductions for their various parcels down to [$44,484,389]. Actual settlements or judgments by the county board resulted in a reduction of only [$7,865,200],” Krawczun told council members.
“At this time, we are calculating the amount of cash refunds and/or credits but the total value of these reductions from county tax board appeals is $353,068,” the township manager reported. “Breaking that out by taxing districts, the school value is $184,989; the county $95,640; and the municipal share, which again is 20 percent, $72,438.
“So we are responsible for the full $353,000, but the municipal share was only $72,438,” he said.
Krawczun also released a summary of a separate group of appeals by Lawrence Township property owners that are pending before the state’s tax court, noting that the total assessed value of those properties is $290 million and the township could lose as much as $43.6 million more in ratables.
(This summary, showing the locations and assessments of the properties under appeal, is also available from the township website and from the Patch media box above.)
“There are open appeals from 10, 11, and now 2012. Some of the properties repeat during those different tax years,” Krawczun explained. “The value under appeal for all three years is $290 million. And we see here a potential loss [of $43.6 million] based on 15 percent.
“That 15 percent is placed on this analysis by the assessor’s office because the assessor’s office will look at that 15 percent corridor of whether the assessed value is 15 percent too high or too low compared to market value,” he continued. “And right now, we’ve only had one settlement so far with a reduction of $200,000 against a 2011 appeal… So I just wanted to bring that to your attention…”
Lawrence Township’s total tax base for tax year 2012 was $2,527,842,792, according to the county board of taxation.
Tax appeals have taken a considerable toll on the township's tax base in recent years. Township ratables during the preceding five tax years were as follows:
- 2011 - $2,566,192,608
- 2010 - $2,603,782,710
- 2009 - $2,688,130,426
- 2008 - $2,691,265,288
- 2007 - $2,695,162,162
(Krawczun’s discussion of the tax appeals begins about the 27:10 mark of the Sept. 18 meeting Audio Part 2 file available above.)