Lakefront Property Owners holding meeting

| 19 Jul 2012 | 11:38

WEST MILFORD — The issue that has drawn the interest of the most residents so far this year is the revaluation. With hundreds of West Milford residents filing appeals with the county tax office, the credibility of the revaluation is in question. Those appeals are now underway, with many coming up during the month of August. In an effort to assist homeowners who are challenging the new assessments, the Lakefront Property Owners Association has information to share.

The Lakefront Property Owners Association - a group that formed shortly after estimates of the 2012 tax bill was sent out - is holding a meeting at the West Milford High School auditorium on Saturday, July 21, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The meeting, according to Terry Zielinski, a resident of Kitchell Lake and one of the first to bring the impact of the revaluation to light, will provide a forensic analysis of what Appraisal Systems, Inc. did in the process. Appraisers and attorneys will be present to answer questions and give suggestions to those filing appeals.

Appraisal Systems, Inc., (ASI) was paid $1 million by the township to perform a revaluation of the entire township in 2011, something that hadn't been done since 1988. ASI performed the revaluation. The new valuations took effect in 2012 and, while conventional wisdom was that one third of township homeowners would see an increase in taxes, one third would see a decrease and one third would stay the same, the lakefront homeowners have across the board been hit hard by the process. Several lakefront homeowners have come to the township council explaining that their new valuation will raise their taxes by thousands of dollars. Zielinski expects an almost $2,000 increase in his taxes. Others have reported up to $5,000 increases.

"They're going to devastate our town," said Zielinski.

And it's not just the lakefront homeowners seriously affected. In June and again Wednesday night, many commercial property owners brought their stories of dramatic tax increases to the council and how the increases were going to put them under (see story on page 1).

Zielinski said he wouldn't be surprised if upwards of 600 people attend Saturday's meeting. HOW MANY residents have filed tax appeals, which are in full swing now.