Lakewood 2019 tax increase: Avg Single-family to add $268, Townhouse $201, GL debunks previous Township tax claims

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September 26 Update: Tax bills have been sent to homeowners

May 9th Update: The proposal has been approved

Understanding property taxes

At their last public meeting, Lakewood’s Township Committee formally introduced the 2019 municipal budget, which includes an increase of 8.15% to the tax rate. This will amount to an annual increase of $268 to a home assessed at $551,700 (an average single family home) and $201 to a home assessed at $417,900 (an average townhome).

The tax rate is the percentage assessed as payable in taxation per $100 of your home’s total assessed land value.
The Township’s tax assessor assigns every parcel of land a certain value. Then the tax collector sets the rate at which every home will be taxed.
In 2018, the tax rate was $0.592 and the proposed 2019 rate is $0.6402, which is how we calculated the 8.15% increase (0.592 x 1.0815=0.6402).

Township Committee was dishonest regarding ‘flat budgets’

Lakewood Township Committeemen have stated in the past – particularly by election season – that they maintained a “flat budget” for at least 3 years. However, while we agree that this is the first increase to the tax rate in a while, we don’t think it’s fully accurate to say the budget remained flat for 3 years – even though it was reported in local media outlets.

This is for 2 reasons:

1) In 2017, the tax assessor did a township-wide reassessment of every parcel of land in town. Due to this, the tax rate actually decreased significantly, from $0.861 to $0.592. However, with the new assessments, many residents paid a higher tax bill, while some residents did pay a lower tax bill.

“if there is so much new construction in town every year, with more people paying property tax, how is it that our property taxes don’t go down?”

2) The question is often asked, “if there is so much new construction in town every year, with more people paying property tax, how is it that our property taxes don’t go down?” Part of the answer is that the Township Committee often grants 5 year tax abatements to new retail shopping centers and office buildings (on the basis that these new centers create new jobs in Lakewood).

Tax abatements means the property owner gets a phased-in tax bill over 5 years. The rest of the answer is that all the new residents in town cost the Township more police officers and public works employees, and vehicles. The taxes paid by the new construction covers the increase in personnel and vehicles.
It comes out that the total revenue by taxation actually increases annually by well over $1 million (and in 2017, thanks to the Township wide reassessment, close to $2 million).

This is why, though the tax rate did indeed remain stable for 2 years until now, and for at least 3 years prior to the 2017 township-wide reassessment, we don’t think it’s fair to say that the budget remained flat for 3 years.

On April 17, the Township Committee will hold a formal public hearing prior to adopting the new budget.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Why would a local township give a tax abatement because it brings jobs? None of the workers are moving to Lakewood solely because of the jobs.Open the local BP and see all teh places advertising, begging people to come work for them.
    We don’t pay income tax to Lakewood. This doesn’t make sense.

    • It is a lot worse then this article states. The vast majority of the new commercial construction are getting 30 YEAR TAX ABATEMENTS VIA THE PILOT PROGRAM, not 5 year abatement’s. The way the PILOT program works. is that while the city does collect revenue from the properties, they DO NOT PAY ANY OF THE SCHOOL DISTRICT TAXES (which is the majority of a standard property tax bill).

      This starves the school district of funds and increases the proportionate burden on the rest of the town.The majority of the tax increases over the last few years went towards funding the school district. It is a ridiculous situation, where the Township Politicians make the decision on these abatements, yet the school district and taxpayers are the ones who lose out and are left holding the bag.

      So all the while, that the township claimed it hasn’t raised their taxes the past few years, they are the ones who decided to grant these abatements, adding to the School District financial woes, and causing the school taxes to increase.

      On top of that, while these abatements are supposedly meant to increase development, there are a number of occasions where abatements were granted AFTER the development was fully planned and leased.

      There is ZERO justification for these abatements, especially since the land where most of these buildings are being built, was township land, given away for free. The only beneficiary of these abatements, is the one who received the land for free, as it allows them to sell the land at a higher price.

      These PILOT programs are ripe for corruption. It is not only an issue in Lakewood, it is an issue in many towns including Newark. One of the things Murphy campaigned on was stopping the PILOT program due to the high instances of seeming abuse of it, but hasn’t done anything about it so far.

  2. This is garbage, we DON’T NEED more cops!!!!!

    Our community brings the crime rate down..

    Lakewood has too many cops to begin with!!!

    How many more DOT people do we need? We need more efficiency, in that department!

    • Especially considering the Lakewood Police are reactionary only. You never see them patrolling like you do in other places. They park somewhere, than wait for something to happen. One cop patrolling has more coverage than 5 stationary police.

      Makes you wonder what the real reason for hiring more police was. Maybe their weren’t enough cops willing to work construction sites in their off hours.

  3. This doesnt include the increase for the BOE. So actually total increased tax bill is even higher. And climbing. Stop the building!

  4. There is a 2% property tax rate cap. DPW and police aren’t from the few exceptions. What is the township’s legal basis? Enough with their garbage already. The community should sue for an injunction against their thievery.

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