An article posted on www.nj.com, states that preliminary figures show that tax bases in Ocean and Monmouth counties have received yet another formidable blow from hurricane Sandy. Property values have been reduced by more than $5 billion and the local government and schools are being robbed of approximately $77 million in potential revenue.
The first glimpse of the destruction this storm has caused for homes and businesses property values comes from data pulled from the tax boards in both coastal counties. The article goes on to state that this is the lifeblood of any local government and the main source of revenue on the local level.
School boards and mayors must now make the decision to seek additional revenue from other sources, cut services and/or programs or raise taxes just to maintain their current status.
Along with assistance from the federal government – low-interest loans – officials in the two hardest hit counties are hoping for a bailout from the Christie administration. Restoring the tax rolls to pre-Sandy levels and banking on businesses and residents to rebuild quickly seems to be the only choice.
In Mantoloking, there is a lot of clean up and rebuilding to do. As a result of hurricane Sandy, it saw its taxable value plunge by 32 percent; this is the largest decline of any town in the two counties.
At least 13,000 properties in Ocean County saw their assessed value reduced by a combined $4.6 billion. More than 17,000 properties were reduced by a total of more than $503 million in Monmouth County – and according to the article, this doesn’t come close to the whole picture.
Local officials stated that the land under buildings that were washed away are now worth nothing to the municipality and was only counted at half their pre-Sandy value.
More statistics from the article:
In Toms River, the largest municipality in the two counties, the storm wiped out about 300 homes and an estimated $3 billion in taxable value, leaving a potential $12 million revenue shortfall as township officials put together a budget. Adding in the county and the school district, the potential hole soars to around $46 million based on 2012 tax rates.
Across the two counties, nearly half of the potential loss in property tax dollars would have gone to school districts.
For the Manasquan school district, a nearly $79 million loss in property values meant a possible reduction of more than $673,000, according to records. The school board on Tuesday approved a $22.5 million budget that includes a tax increase of about $225 to the average homeowner just to maintain its current level of programs, said acting Superintendent Robert Mahon.
Wall Street has taken notice of the diminished tax bases, cutting the bond rating in December for Seaside Heights — which saw its tax base drop by $35 million, or 5 percent — and putting at least five others, including Toms River, on notice. A drop in credit rating would make it more costly for towns to borrow just as they may need the cash to pay the bills.
In all, tax records show 558 properties along Ocean Avenue were assessed at $377.2 million in 2012. After inspection by tax assessors earlier this year, the taxable value of the property was cut about $60 million, or nearly 20 percent.
To help tackle the potential tax ratable disaster, towns are dipping into the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s community disaster loan program, available to those with projected revenue shortfalls of at least 5 percent from last year into 2015. So far 33 towns have applied. Belluscio noted that Gov. Chris Christie has urged school districts to also apply for FEMA loans.
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