City workshops aim to help Trenton residents win tax appeals

Leah Mishkin, Correspondent | February 5, 2019

Pastor Hazel Morgan has lived in Trenton for over 50 years and leads bible study at the Samuel Naples Senior Center. When she’s not there, she’s out in the community feeding the homeless, even if that’s meant taking the money out of her own pocket.

“If I’m a servant of the lord then I have to do it the way he says it,” Morgan said.

Morgan was able to give back more because she was one of the winners of the 2017 revaluation in Trenton.

“It made a great difference for me. God has a way of doing things to make things easier for us, so I appreciate that and what they did,” she said.

But the revaluation, the first since 1992, had its of share losers as well. Some residents saw their taxes go up and some saw them go down. Now people all around the city have the opportunity to make their appeal.

Gabriel Arce lives in a converted gas station and he says they evaluated him as a business so his property taxes nearly doubled to $13,000.

“I originally appealed it in 2017 and it went to $11,280,” Arce said. “I’m afraid I’m going to lose my home. We don’t want to leave. I was born and raised in Trenton. It was my dream place. I have my cars there. And right now we’re looking to move south somewhere because I’m afraid that we’re going to get kicked out of our home.”

He says his dream of transforming a gas station into a home has turned into a nightmare. He says many businesses in Trenton were hit just as hard.

“Businesses have now relocated because they could not afford the taxes,” Arce said.

The city says residential assessments actually decreased overall, but businesses saw the most increases. A presentation on Tuesday was one of several information sessions the city is hosting to explain the tax appeal process.

“When you’re appealing you’re not appealing the amount of taxes that you’re paying, you’re appealing the value that we have placed on your home,” said Deborah Fox, Trenton’s principal assistant tax assessor.

According to city data, 1,000 property owners appealed their assessment in 2017. Arce says he plans to appeal again this year.

The deadline for Trentonians, and any property owner in New Jersey, is April 1.