To The Editor:
I bought a 75 by 30-foot property in Avalon Manor, which is part of Middle Township, in 1986 for $25,000. At the time I was just out of college and living with my mom. I had to borrow the $10,000 down payment (with my mom co-signing) and get the owner to take back the $15,000 balance as a mortgage.
The property had a small trailer on it. In 1991, I tore that down and put up a small mobile home. It is realistically worth about $150,000 to $200,000 now but the township assesses it at $413,000 and taxes me just under $5,000 a year.
The property next door to mine, which was more than twice the size as mine with a much bigger home on it, sold for $300,000 two years ago. I fought this on the local and state level but lost. The assessor failed to comply with the court's discovery laws as we moved through the appeal process but it did not matter, they prevailed.
I tried to handle this on my own but failed. I got this year's new assessment and I will fight it again. I have even considered paying my taxes in pennies or $1 bills, but then I have to take my own time to go and do this and it really serves no purpose.
Simple fact is that New Jersey is the highest property tax state in the USA for a good reason: From bottom to top (assessor to judges), they do what is necessary to keep their system intact and give the property owner no relief. If a judge decides to give a peon like me a break, then their whole system is threatened.
This is my second home, so I am therefore considered a "rich" man with a "resort" home. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I am just a guy who made an investment some years ago before the area got trendy. The township figures that if an owner sells the property due to the high assessment, someone else will buy it and pay the taxes.
I will never sell the property, I will eventually pass it on to my children, so the fact that it has appreciated in value is nothing to me. It just means that my tax bill keeps going up.