Interactive Map: Total Value of NJ Property Takes Slight Dip, for Second Year

Colleen O'Dea | July 29, 2016 | Map of the Week, Maps
Plummeting property values in Atlantic City, Paterson help push statewide trend into the negative column

The total value of New Jersey’s property declined slightly in 2015, driven in part by another steep drop in Atlantic City.

Still hovering just below the $1 trillion mark, the total net taxable value of property in the state dropped by $300 million from 2014 to 2015 to $982.7 billion, according to data from the New Jersey Department of Treasury. Last year’s total value was also lower than the recent high of $988.4 billion in 2011.

Meanwhile, the total amount to be raised by local, school, and county property taxes rose by about 2 percent, or roughly $500 million, to $27.7 billion.

The largest drop in value was nearly 35 percent in Atlantic City, which continues to struggle financially. Last year, as part of continuing bad news for the city, an appeals court panel approved the successful property tax appeal of Borgata Hotel, Casino and Spa for 2009-2010 — valuing the property at $880 million, only about a third of the $2.3 billion assessment the city had placed on the casino. The city has also settled tax appeals with the casino for 2011 to 2014. In 2014, the net value of taxable property in the city totaled $11.3 billion and last year, that dropped to $7.3 billion. Atlantic City’s tax base has been declining for the past decade, from a high of more than $20 billion as a result of several casino closings and other successful assessment appeals.

Despite passage of a package of bills meant to keep the city afloat, Atlantic City is close to defaulting on a $3.4 million debt payment due August 1 because it has not been able to come to terms with the Christie administration on a needed bridge loan.

Another large drop in ratables came as a result of a property revaluation in Paterson. The city’s net value of taxable property declined by more than 30 percent or about $2.5 billion to $5.7 billion. While some property owners have complained about higher bills, city officials noted the drop in assessments and said the average house got a tax decrease.

But revaluations often have the opposite affect and those were the reason why some municipalities saw large increases in their property values. Ratables in Weymouth in Atlantic County shot up by nearly two-thirds to $161 million after the township revalued property. That revaluation hit a 55-plus community especially hard, roughly tripling the value of the land on which the development is located.

Similarly, the total net value of property in Montague in Sussex County rose by some 60 percent or about $135 million, to $358 million between 2014 and 2015. The township had not revalued property in two decades and was ordered to do so by county and state taxation officials.

When municipalities have not done a reassessment for many years, property values can get skewed in different neighborhoods. When the difference between assessments and the true value of properties gets too wide, the state or a county may order a municipality to revalue all its properties. Because revaluations change the assessments of properties throughout a municipality based on their size and the market, they can affect owners in different parts of a town in different ways, with some paying higher taxes if their homes were underassessed and some paying less in their properties were overassessed.