Instead of providing the usual update about various projects in town, I wanted to take this opportunity to share some information about South Orange's municipal budget, the recent reassessment and property taxes. Considering the 3rd quarter tax bills were recently delivered, I thought this would be a good chance to share some information on the process. We have compiled a much more thorough description of these issues and it is posted on the southorange.org under 'Understanding your 2012 Tax Bill" on the homepage, and we encourage anyone interested in learning more, or if you have more questions to visit the website and take a look at this document. Here is a summary of the some of the information that we compiled.
Tax bill due dates: 3rd quarter taxes are due August 20, 2012 (with no grace period). 4th quarter taxes are due November 1, 2012 with a 10 day grace period. Because we adopted our budget earlier this year than in the past, recently mailed bills are actual bills, not estimated as historically sent, and no further bills will be sent.
Tax Levy Increase: South Orange’s total municipal tax levy increased only 1.46% from 2011 to 2012. The municipal tax levy is only 27.7% of your total taxes, with school being the majority at 56.6% and Essex County being 15.7%. This is the second lowest tax levy increase in over a decade in South Orange. The municipal tax increase on the average home was approximately $83, and from 2011 to 2012, we cut budgeted spending (appropriations) by over $1,000,000. If you combine the Village, school and county taxes, the total levy increase is 1.83%.
We have worked hard to keep tax increases as low as possible, and although we all know that our local property taxes are challenging for many of us, especially in this economy, we feel confident that this budget does a good job of keeping the increases to a minimum while still maintaining all of our services and investing in long-term infrastructure and capital projects. Our budget also retains a decent safety net that will ensure we don't get hit with a large increase in years following due to an emergency or large unexpected expense. You can learn a little more about the cost saving measures that we have taken with this year's budget from the 2012 State Of The Village address at southorange.org/SOTV. You can also download the 2012 budget in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, and plug your own numbers in to see what impact changes would have. Unlike the past “read-only” .pdf format, South Orange is one of the first municipalities ever to offer its budget in this accessible format.
Reassessment and Tax Impact: A reassessment was recently done to equalize Village-wide property values due to an extremely high volume of tax appeals (over 12% of all households). The reassessment was performed by independent licensed real estate appraisers, not by the Village or Board of Trustees. There was an overall property value decline in the Village of about 19.2%. However, if your value went down more than 19.2% your taxes would decrease, yet if your value held better and went down less than 19.2%, your taxes would increase. The reassessment impact is in addition to 1.83% tax levy increase. To help ensure residents understand the process and the impact of both the budget and reassessment, we have put together an interactive calculator you can use to see the impact of the tax levy Increase and of the reassessment of your property on your tax bill. You can simply input your 2011 and 2012 assessed values in the calculator on the link at the end of the article on our website at southorange.org to use this calculator.
As always, please contact myself or our administration in Village Hall if you have any questions on the budget, your reassessment or any other information contained in this update. You can contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact our administration at 973 378 7715, extension 2 and we can help make sure to speak to the right person and get whatever information you need. Please also feel free to stop by my office hours every Tuesday afternoon.