By Carol ReifWEST MILFORD — New Jersey homeowners, who pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation, saw property tax rates go up an average 1.6 percent last year — the slowest growth in four years, according to a study by New Jersey 101.5.The media outlet reported that the average property tax bill rose in 498 municipalities and went down in 67, including West Milford. According to its figures, the township's average residential bill dipped from $9,077 in 2016 to $9,043 in 2017, or .40 percent less.West Milford's chief financial officer, Ellen Mageean, calculated the numbers this week and came up with slightly different result, but, the average residential tax bill in the township went down, she confirmed.The average home in West Milford is assessed at $247,000, Mageean said. Using that as a basis, she calculated that the average property tax bill was $9,161.23 in 2016 and $9,146.41 in 2017, which is .011 percent lower.The media outlet reported last week that while the state has not made tax data public yet, it was able to suss out the status of individual municipalities by putting together county and Treasury Department information.The average property tax bill in 2017 was $8,690, its report said.Property taxes went up by $480 million in the state and once fire and other service-related districts were calculated, the combined revenue was more than $29 billion, doubling since 2000, New Jersey 101.5 reported.According to the media outlet, nearly 300 of the 498 places where the property taxes went up, saw increases of more than 2 percent. Sea Bright in Monmouth County and West Wildwood in Cape May County were at the top of the list, with 15.9 percent and 12 percent hikes, respectively, the study found.Business journal NJBiz, referencing the New Jersey 101.5 study, on Monday reported that then-Gov. Chris Christie had credited the state's 2 percent property tax cap policy passed in 2010 for the slower growth.The Republican's press office released the NJBiz story as an "In Case You Missed It" shout-out on Monday, the day before his Democratic successor, Phil Murphy, was sworn into office in Trenton.West Milford provides a service on its municipal website that allows residents to search property tax data from billing dates, quarterly bills amounts, interest due, payments and balance.To access it, go to http://www.westmilford.org/index.cfm, click on services at the top of the home page, and scroll to tax data inquiry.To read NewJersey 101.5's full report and to visit an interactive map that shows how West Milford stacks up, click here http://nj1015.com/nj-property-tax-haul-in-2017-was-29b-see-how-it-changed-in-your-town/.