Appraisals Faulted

While many Perth Amboy residents received higher tax bills this year, Mayor Wilda Diaz saw her bill go down after her home’s assessed value was reduced.

While many Perth Amboy residents received higher tax bills this year, Mayor Wilda Diaz saw her bill go down after her home’s assessed value was reduced.

PERTH AMBOY — A reflection of the grossly unfair distribution of the city’s tax burden under Mayor Wilda Diaz is evidenced by a rash of complaints filed by citizens disputing the municipal assessor’s appraisal of their property values, which have a direct correlation to tax bills.

More startling, Diaz cut her own tax bill by seven percent by allowing the city assessor’s office to arbitrarily reduce her property assessment from $417,600 to $387,600; so instead of paying $11,193.62 her tax bill was only $10,387.68, a reduction of $805.94.

Perth Amboy real property tax appeals have skyrocketed in recent years as the city administration ineptly struggles to unravel the chaos left behind by former Mayor Joe Vas, even as Diaz is gearing up to seek re-election with an additional six-months added to her term due to the change from voting in May to November.

“In the year 2010 we received 432 Perth Amboy appeals, in the year 2011 we received 639 Perth Amboy appeals and in 2012 we received 1,225 Perth Amboy appeals, or a total of 2,296,” said Irving Verosloff, CTA, administrator for the Middlesex County Tax Board.

“This year the volume is greater than any other year,” said Verosloff, who attributed the large increase to a desire among homeowners to lower their tax bills, which are based on a combination of individual real estate values in proportion to the total value of all assessments and the budgetary expenses funded by property taxes.

Across the county, the number of tax appeals rose from 5,486 in 2010 and 5,576 in 2011, to 6,583 this year. Perth Amboy disputes account for a whopping 73 percent of this year’s increase over the 2010 tax appeal caseload.

Diaz defeated Vas in a stunning landslide four years ago, in large part due to voter anger over massive tax increases that resulted from a city-wide property revaluation and emergency measures needed to close budget deficits.
Since then, Diaz has signed into effect five new tax hikes as well as a water rate increase all in the course of four years.

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez, who was elected in league with Diaz four years ago, has stood alone on the governing body speaking out in opposition to her tax hikes and inequitable allocation of reduced assessments.
Last year, Diaz paid a $10,472.96 levy on her $417,600 property assessment for the Lee Street home she owns with her husband, Greg, so unlike most residents, her tax bill went down this year.

The total assessed value of land in the city dropped by $140 million in 2012, compared with the prior year, as a result of numerous tax appeals and the Diaz administration’s capitulation to Chevron Oil Company.

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