| 08 May 2012 | 08:58

    Property taxes may go up “BIG TIME” for every homeowner in West Milford in the next three to five years.Because of the recent unjustproperty revaluations, homeowners who reside on lakefront propertiesin our township could see their taxes increase $3,000 to $5,000 thisyear and some increases will be a great deal higher.The value of ourland alone has nearly quadrupled, according to the appraisal company’srevaluation of my lakefront property on Greenwood Lake.Our propertytaxes are scheduled toincrease by more than $4,000 this year.

    Before long, the other shoe could drop.I have been advised thatthere are approximately 11,751 homes in West Milford and 1,305 are lakefront homes on our township’s 14 lakes.So many senior citizenssuch as my wife and I (many on fixed incomes) have been just barelyholding on during these difficult economic times because we loveliving in this town.The question is, can we now afford to stay?

    Let’s say that only 300 seniors or other homeowners are forced to selland move away.Most homes have anywhere from 2 to 5 bedrooms, themajority probably three or four.New families will move into those homeswith an average 2.5 children per family.If 750 additional childrenare added to the student population at an annual cost of approximately$13,000 per child plus $22,000 for each special needs child (accordingto information provided by the Board of Education), the additionalcosts of educating those 750 children could result in a 20 percent increasein our $51,252,781 school budget.How many additional families willthen be forced to sell their homes and relocate?Our recently retiredfriends have just sold their West Milford home (which they loved) andmoved one hour away to Pennsylvania.Their property taxes for the same sizedhome as they were forced to sell here in our township are now only$1,200 per year.Our neighbors, whose children have just completedcollege and thought that they would now be able to save more for theirown retirement, have told us that the tax increase this year willforce them to sell their lakefront home in which they had hoped tospend their retirement years.

    I feel that if the governing body of our township, the town council,had the authority to select and hire the appraisal company, theyshould take steps to correct this situation which has resulted in suchan inequitable distribution of tax burden upon the lakefront propertyowners of our community.

    John (Rod) Dundorf Hewitt