by Patricia A. Miller
The Township Committee has awarded a $360,000 contract to the lowest bidder to conduct a "hybrid" reassessment to clear up disparities in property and land values.
Lacey Township Committee members voted unanimously at the March 13 meeting to award the contract to New Jersey-based Realty Appraisal Inc.and approved a temporary emergency appropriation to fund the cost.
The township's last reassessment was in 2005, at the height of the real estate market, Mayor Gary Quinn said after the meeting.
Ocean County did not order the township to conduct the reassessment, the mayor said.
"We chose to do it ourselves and try to stop the bleeding of these tax appeals," Quinn said. "This will bring things into line."
A "hybrid" reassessment involves examining roughly 15 to 20 percent of the roughly 12,000 residential and commercial properties in town, he said.
Most of the structures in town have not changed much over the last few years, but land values need to be looked at, Quinn said.
Sunset Boulevard resident Regina Discenza questioned why land assessments on her street, for what she called "cookie-cutter" lots, varied in assessed value by as much as $30,000.
Discenza also said the reassessment would not be fair to Lacey residents still impacted by Superstorm Sandy.
"You'd better be prepared to prove it to me and all the people on the waterfront," she told officials during the public portion of the meeting. "I think you better be prepared for a backlash. "Is what you are doing fair to the public? I don't think so."
But Quinn said out of roughly 12,000 homes in Lacey, only around 100 were deemed "substantially damaged" by Sandy.
The majority of Sandy victims are back in their homes, except for those who didn't have insurance or are having trouble getting federal funding, the mayor said.
Quinn offered to meet with Discenza and the township tax assessor to discuss the disparities she mentioned on her street.