Homeowner Uncovers Questionable Brigantine Taxation Practices

The following was sent to the New Jersey Office of the State Comptroller, Phillip James Degnan on October 17, 2017.

Re: City of Brigantine Tax Practices

Who protects the elderly, the poor and those that cannot fight city hall from being unfairly taxed out of their homes?

I have just finished a study of the city of brigantine tax evaluation and tax appeal practices. This was all started when I was doing a very simple tax appeal for my 2nd home on the island.

When I found explainable road blocks, city government hurdles and completely illogical conclusions reached by the city tax collector I began to dig deeper. The following is what I have uncovered. I believe all the information to be true and accurate to the best of my knowledge. I have spent several hundred hours to this point. I have looked at over 300 real estate transactions. I think the results warrant a serious in-depth investigation into the City of Brigantine and its practices.

1. There was a 2014 property revaluation. Based on the 2014 revaluation the majority of the sale prices should be higher than the taxed assessed value.

2. All sales information was taken from the City of Brigantine Tax Office manuals.

3. The City of Brigantine taxes some nonresidents at a higher rate than some city employees and residents.

4. They miss use the NU [non usable comp sales] to eliminate sales that would justify a lower property value.

5. They do not follow the practices and guide lines clearly set by the State of New Jersey.

6. They do not use true value, fair value and market value to establish the taxable value.

7. They manipulate       the sales information to maintain a ratio 85% to 99% so not to send red flags to the State Division of Taxation.

8. With a 2014 re-evaluation most of the properties should be selling for more than the current tax assessed value and they are not.

9. They block out entire sections of the city as non-useable comps because their real estate value is historically lower than other sections. Then the city comps the lower valued area

with a much higher value area in order to defend their assessed value. In my case they traveled as much as 1.9 miles away for a standard house.

10. In one case the city ignored a $389,000 appraisal done by an appraiser in Brigantine and assessed his vale at $ 689,000. The owner is also a non-resident.

11. I looked at all single family house sales except on, Aunt B’s cream which sold for $ 489,000 and was only assessed at $ 186,000. This is a case where it appears a local person was paying about $7,000 a year less than they should.

12. It looks like the amount of overtaxing could run about six million per year if the numbers hold up.

13. The city does not appear to allow non-residents to use Nus marked 1,2,3,10,15,17,26,28 and 31. The state is clear these may be considered in the tax appeal process. The state only uses them for the ‘directors table’ which has nothing to do with the tax appeal process.

14. The city uses incorrect statements in the tax appeal hearings such as the new owner tore down the house, the house needed some work, the neighbor bought the house, and the owner had to sell. Most of these are not in accordance with the state tax code.

Information taken from books 3, 4 and 5 at the tax office in Brigantine marked 2017

89 total sales equaling $ 32,740,053 the taxed access value is $ 37,892,300 equaling a 116% ratio

50 of the 89 were marked Nus or 56% of the total sales

Brigantine residents

11 sales where brigantine residents, 5 sold at $1,456,000 their assessed value was $1,818,800 over taxed by $362,000

6 sold for $ 2,756,500 and were taxed at $ 2,111,100 or under taxed by $ 645,400 or an average of $ 107,566/per property

Non residents

Nonresident 60 sales, sale price $19,512,553 taxed assessed value $26,306,300, over taxed $ 6,793,747 or a ratio of 135%

This equals $ 109,576/property @ the tax rate of 0.018, equals over charging of $ 1,972 per property per year

15 sold at sale price $ 7,396,000, tax value $ 6,491,300, equaling $ 60,313 per property under value

81% of Non-residents over valued by 35 % or $109,576

45% of Brigantine residents over valued by $72,560

15% of non-residents are being undervalued by $ 60,303

55% of Brigantine residents are being undervalued by $ 107,566

Blocks 200 to 800

18 sales 15 over valued by $107,733, or 83% average sale price of $367,865

3 sold for above tax value by $ 24,000 or 17%

13 of the total sales were marked NU or 72% of all properties sold on the north end leaving only three properties to use as comp sales on the complete north end

Information taken from the tax books marked 2016

192 properties total sales $68,853,000, tax value $78,319,200 ratio 114%

50 sold for above assessed value by $47,396

142 sold for below assessed value by $ 83,351/property

91 properties were marked Nus or 47% of the total sales

Non brigantine residents

119 properties

26% sold above tax value by $47,554

74% or 88 properties were overvalued by $93,338/property or 25% below assessed value

Brigantine residents

74 properties

26% or 19 properties were undervalued by $ 44,432

74% or 55 properties were overvalued by $ 65,858

Added items to investigate that show bad financial practices for years;

From 2010 to 2012 Andy Simpson the deputy mayor did not pay over $50,000 in real estate taxes and $100,000 in fines were waived, this is on video

“Green Head Politics” a book by Patrick Costello, this follows the Director of Public works and his whistle blower information. This is a 177 page road map to corruption in Brigantine. It’s reported the city

settled for over one million dollars to keep the case out of court. If a city pays out a million dollars it’s hard to believe there was no criminal activity.

Speak with Jennifer Blumenthal the ex-city manager about contract negotiations.

I presented some of this information to city council on July 15th 2017 during the public speaking portion. You will see in the attached video there was no interest in pursuing it further. That leads me to believe the system is planned and administered intentionally. I also offered to give them my complete excel file on property sales and tax assessed values.

Conclusions:

All current and past tax appeals should be examined by the state.

The tax payers who have been overcharged since 2014 should be reimbursed.

If this practice runs back to 2006 the money should be returned to those in which it was taken from.

A state appointed overseer should be put in place.

The 6 million in excess funds should be frozen.

Respectfully,

Ron Main

Brigantine Property Owner

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