RISE UP OCEAN COUNTY:
PROBLEM WITH TAX EXEMPT PROPERTIES AND THE DESTRUCTION OF SCHOOL DISTRICTS
Given that one of the main issues that our county faces is the growing number of tax-exempt properties, this screenshot came across our desks this morning. Toms River seems to be following in other town’s footsteps.
1191 Hickory Street is a known place of worship. The residents know this, and the township knows this. Every Friday night to Sunday there are no less than 15-20 cars in the driveway and street during this time (and with a conservative average of 2 people per car that makes 30-40 people staying at this house EVERY single weekend). Also, several times during the week, we are told that they see dozens of individuals walking, driving, parking, getting out of the commuter van, and going into and out of this place of worship. Residents have called to complain about the dangerous conditions driving in this area with people walking in the middle of the streets, cars parked over the white lines, and the fact that 3-4 dozen people utilize this house as a motel/hotel every weekend. All of the resident’s concerns about this property, once again have fallen on deaf ears. As one resident has told us this morning, this is something they have become accustom to.
Based on their assessed value and other properties of similar assessed values, 1191 Hickory Street should be paying upwards of $16,500-$17,000 a year in property taxes. However, the state and the town have approved this property at 1191 Hickory Street, as a Church/Charitable. Which means at this moment, this property owner has a reduced tax bill. This is a 6 bedroom/3 bath house in North Dover with an assessed value of $755,500 and now after the most recent reduction this property currently will pay only $11,836.20 (based on last and this coming quarter’s amounts X 4) (so far), a reduction from the $16,500 – $17,000 they should be paying. But keep in mind chances are they will follow in the footsteps of 2302 Tapestry Court, another known place of worship, which originally had a similar reduction only to be fully tax exempt a short period of time later. This means this homeowner (2302 Tapestry Court) currently pays absolutely nothing in property taxes for an assessed value of a home and property of $646,400. This is due in part to the procedures within the state of New Jersey AND Toms River Township. While both blame the other, they are both to blame for allowing this.
The major problem we see with this type of recklessness is the tax-exempt properties of this magnitude, will further destroy an already deeply indebted Toms River School system with this loss of property tax revenue. This is only the second house of worship in this area to have a reduction or complete exemption, which we are sure that there are many to come.
Since Lakewood seems to be the town with the most tax revenue/school/ bussing issues we looked further into the tax-exempt properties. What we found will be discussed in length at a future date but just to give you an insight to what we found, one organization has roughly $107,000,000 in assessed value property in Lakewood alone, of which $98,000,000 (approx.) is tax exempt. Based on the tax calculation description on http://www.lakewoodnj.gov/department/tax-collector, that is an approximate loss of tax revenue of $2,261,840 a year to the township of Lakewood for this ONE organization and its’ properties.
So we leave you with this question, is it ok that these homes are given tax exemptions for organizations that are not even domiciled in this state, let alone this county?