Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop is blaming political nemesis Gov. Chris Christie for the newly announced tax reval of the city, tweeting that it’s “no surprise” Christie went after Jersey City “based on politics” – though Christie’s office says the reval is a reflection of “local officials’ failure to do their jobs.”
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
In the latest round of the bloody war of attrition between Fulop and Christie, the Jersey City mayor says the governor – who many believe Fulop is hoping to replace – “singles out” Jersey City when over 30 towns in the state are due for a reval.
Fulop added in a response to another tweet that while he had no issue with the state forcing tax revals, it should be an all or nothing scenario.
At a Downtown Town Hall meeting in January, Fulop defended his council record of voting no against doing a tax reval, which hasn’t occurred since 1988, by stating “it is catastrophic for you living in this city,” adding that the Jerramiah Healy administration delayed the reval during an election year.
Fulop received some backlash from residents for saying at the same meeting that anyone who is arguing in favor of the reval “are doing it purely for hatred of me.”
Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for Christie’s office, brushed off the idea that the reval was political.
“The common thread among them is local officials’ failure to do their jobs and fulfill their constitutional requirements,” he said of the three municipalities ordered to do a reval, which also includes Elizabeth and Dunellen.
“In Jersey City’s case, at a cost of millions of dollars when they pulled the plug on a prior revaluation effort that was underway.”
Jersey City spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill clearly disagreed, claiming this was just another example of Christie “using government resources to settle political scores.”
“The governor has a long track record of using government resources to settle political scores and there is no secret about his feelings for Mayor Fulop since before Bridgegate. It has been a strange obsession with the mayor,” she said in an email.
“If the Governor is sincere with his comments today, then why not treat all 30 municipalities the same instead of selectively picking three? The reason is that once again this is more politics from Trenton.”
Joe Perone, the director of communications for the State Division of Taxation, says the investigations that led to the three orders today stemmed from a Weehawken lawsuit where residents were calling for a reval last year, per NJ Advance Media.
“Municipal officials in Jersey City, Dunellen and Elizabeth failed to meet their statutory obligation to comply with the State Constitution, which requires a uniform distribution of the tax burden,” added John Ficara, the acting director of the State Division of Taxation, noting this is the first time such an action has been taken in 40 years.
“As a result of their disregard for State law, these municipal officials caused some property owners to pay far too much in taxes and some to pay far too little. These revaluations will bring the towns back into compliance and ensure that all taxpayers are treated fairly and equally, whether they have recently purchased property or are longtime owners.”
According to a table, provided by Perone, of 32 municipalities that haven’t had a reval in at least 25 years, Jersey City’s taxable assessed value from 2015 was $5,980,096,344. However, their taxable, or “true” value is $21,643,490,206.
These numbers help establish a “Director’s Ratio,” which is the average ratio of assessed-to-true value. A ratio of 85% or lower generally denotes noncompliance, the Division of Taxation said. Therefore, Jersey City’s Director’s Ratio is just 27.63.
Within 30 days from the date of the revaluation order, each of the three municipalities must submit a proposed plan of compliance before moving forward.