Several Manchester residents are frustrated that, in the 2013 reassessment, their home values dropped, but their taxes actually will rise in the third and fourth quarters this year - in some cases by more than $1,000.
Appearing at the Township Council's Monday meeting, Pine Lake Park resident Melissa Mascaro said: "No one is going to move here. I could list my house at $400,000, but I'd be lucky to get $250,000. And yet, I'm paying $8,500 in taxes. I came in and the assessor did lower my assessment by $20,000, but that translates to $200 off."
Most of the residents in Manchester Township who do not live in senior communities will see an increase in taxes later this year, despite the fact that the values on their homes have actually dropped, according to Martin Lynch, the township's tax assessor.
Mascaro and others pointed out the fact that if the increase in taxes had been more gradual, it would likely have been better received. But a drastic increase - particularly in this volatile economy - is going to be particularly painful for most residents, they say.
Council members were quick to point out that the taxes from each home paid to the municipality were only 27.5 percent of their total tax bill - compared with 18.5 percent to the county and 54 percent to the schools.
Council President Craig Wallis said: "We have zero to do with the schools … now that the rules have changed, if the [school] budget doesn't change more than 2 percent, it doesn't go to vote."
Wallis said the township has taken steps to reduce municipal taxes, by cutting staff and having township employees pay into their benefits.
Wallis noted that his home assessment has been reduced, and he will likely end up paying more into taxes, but as Lynch explained, this is necessary to maintain the decreases in homes whose assessments dropped more than the 20 percent average, and received a consequent tax decrease. "This is a rebalancing of everything," Wallis said.
As part of reassessment process, the total ratable base in town went from $3.9 billion to $3.2 billion. Residents throughout the town are being notified by letters, and not all have been informed of the changes as of yet, Lynch said last night.
Township officials said they are courting other revenue streams to offset taxes. As an example, in other action at the meeting, Manchester officials authorized a resolution that would enable them to go out to bid for a leased 750-foot cell phone tower, to be constructed on township-owned property in the Roosevelt City section of town.
Some council members called the measure "another means of trying to curtail taxes." The measure would still have to go before a land use board, however, several council members said the measure - which was initiated by AT & T, was "good for the township as a whole."