Manchester's total taxable value has decreased by more than 18 percent, or $725 million, the completed 2013 reassessment shows.
The town-wide reassessment for 2013 was conducted because of the "overall decline" of the real estate market and the high number of appeals filed in 2011 and 2012. The Township Council approved the reassessment early in 2012 and appointed Manchester's tax assessor Martin Lynch to take on the extra duties rather than hire an outside contractor.
"The real estate market has gone through significant changes since the last reassessment was completed in 2009," Lynch said in a statement. The township's total taxable value is now placed at about $3.2 billion.
About one-third of property owners can expect to see an increase in property taxes, one-third will stay about the same, and one-third will see a decrease, the assessor said.
"Many of the older age restricted communities in the township have seen a substantial decline in the value of the homes due to a large supply of homes on the market for sale," Lynch said. "The real estate market in the non-age restricted areas has not declined in value as much as the older age restricted communities and as a result many of the properties located in the non-senior areas will be in the one third that will see an increase in property taxes."
Lynch also advised that a decrease in assessed value does not necessarily translate into a tax decrease.
About 16,000 homes and commercial properties were physically inspected during the 2009 town-wide reassessment, which is why they were not again inspected in 2013. Rather, "recent sales in the market place, construction costs, and income and expense data for commercial properties were analyzed" to determine the new rates, Lynch said.
The reassessment process is revenue neutral, according to the assessor, meaning that the purpose is not to raise taxes but to bring all properties' values to their market value and ensure fairness.
Rather than completing reassessments every few years, the council plans to have Lynch stay on top of keeping property values accurate.
"This will be an ongoing project for Martin [Lynch] — to reassess on a yearly basis, so these types imbalances will not happen again in the future," council Vice President Brendan Weiner said when the plan was passed last year.
Mailings of the new assessed value for each property began this week and will include the property owner's projected taxes for 2013. Because of the amount of notices that must be distributed, it may take two months for all mailings to be sent, but Lynch said that all should be received by the end of February.
Once notices are given, property owners will have the opportunity to arrange an informal review of the assessment during which they may dispute the value, should they be in disagreement, Lynch said.
Final assessment notices will be mailed on March 15 and property owners in disagreement with that amount can file an appeal with the Ocean County Board of Taxation by May 1, Lynch said.
"The final assessment notice will include information concerning the appeal process. You cannot appeal the taxes on your property, only the assessed value," Lynch said.
The reassessment will not affect property tax bills until July and the new tax rate cannot be finalized until the new values are filed with the county and budgets for schools, county and local government are set. But that won't be until "several months" after the tax filing, Lynch said.
The assessment has been certified by the Ocean County Board of Taxation and the New Jersey Division of Taxation, Lynch said.