JerseyCity Revaluation Update: Society Hill Highlighted

Updated: Feb 19, 2018.  Appraisal Systems today published on its website an updated assessments file with about 1,950 new properties added (note: I won’t be updating this page with every single new release from Appraisal Systems…but I have a property tax workshop tonight at Our Lady of Mercy Church and I wanted to be equipped with latest/greatest data and happened to notice new data).

Most background and context I shared yesterday (per post below) still stands. But, some new info I’m now observing:

  • The “VCS” field in Appraisal Systems’ data does, as I noted yesterday, define geographic areas within Jersey City. The “VCS” is something defined by Appraisal Systems, i.e. you won’t find that in your tax record or anywhere online.  The reason geographic areas are important, and why an appraisal firm might break a city up into different areas: when establishing market value, comparable sales serve as evidence of market value and location of comparable sales is important.  There are about 160 individual VCS’s listed in Appraisal Systems’ assessments data.
  • In my opinion, the VCS field is not a user-friendly field, i.e. it likely has meaning to Appraisal Systems and their processes for determining new assessments, but it’s not very helpful for taxpayers who are trying to understand how their market values were arrived at.
  • I should note: last April, Appraisal Systems’ Project Manager Mark Duda explained that, for comparable sales purposes, Appraisal Systems would carve Jersey City up into about 40 different neighborhoods (I wrote about that here).  So how exactly the 39-or-so neighborhoods relate to the 160+ VCS fields is unclear to me, but if I learn more I’ll share here.

Regarding the latest assessments data: There are 1,488 new properties in this dataset with the “BGHJ” value in the “VCS” field.  This area appears to refer to areas in Greenville-Jackson Hill. This area appears to comprise most of the new assessments that have been added in this latest 2/19 update.

    • Greenville – Jackson Hill (VCS = BGHJ) – 1,488 properties listed
      • 921 properties are estimated to have lower estimated taxes in 2018 vs. 2017 (see file for new assessment and tax expense details)
      • 567 properties are estimated to have higher estimated taxes in 2018 vs. 2017 (see file for new assessment and tax expense details)
      • If you live in this area of Jersey City and want to see the data, open up the ASI File (located here) in Excel or Google Sheets and then filter “VCS” (middle of the spreadsheet) for “BGHJ”.

The summaries I listed below (for Society Hill, areas of downtown, Lafayette, etc) have not changed in this latest dataset, based on my quick PIVOT-analysis.

February 18, 2018. Appraisal Systems has begun releasing new assessments and I’m sharing some high level observations based on data released as of Feb 18, 2018.

Some background & context. According to the most recently available User Friendly Budget, Jersey City has just over 61,000 parcels of property (a parcel is an assessed unit of real estate – e.g. a house or an apartment within a condo building).  As of Feb 18, 2018, Appraisal Systems has released new assessments for about 13,600 of those parcels of real estate. Their release was originally in PDF format, but is now available in MS Excel format.

This is a callout of Society Hill in southeast Jersey City.

The “VCS” Field – Very Important. Appraisal Systems has carved Jersey City into about 40 different neighborhood zones. You can view these zones on a sort-of-user-friendly map located on their website here. The neighborhood zones are labeled, on Appraisal Systems’ map,  “VCS” and this field can also be found in their dataset (it’s one of the middle columns in the Excel file).  For instance, VCS “SH01” is the abbreviation for a “Society Hill 01”, as shown below.

FYI – Tax Abated Property.

  • About 3,600 properties in the 13,600+ dataset appear to be abated units. Abated real estate is not subject to property tax; instead it is subject to the terms of the abatement contract.
  • The document lists a total tax-exempt value of $2,567,428,400.  If abated, these units presumably pay payments in lieu of tax (a/k/a “PILOT” fees) which are not reflected in the document.
  • Anyone living in an abated property who wants to understand their new PILOT fee should refer to their abatement contract for details. The Jersey City Tax office has a record of all abatements on file and so is a resource if you have questions.

Conventionally Taxed Property.  The remaining 10,000 or so properties in this initial dataset are conventionally taxed, meaning the full value of the property is subject to property tax.  I’m sharing some observations below, based entirely on this limited dataset, and grouped by neighborhood.

  • Society Hill (VCS = SH01, SH02, SH03)
    • 1,396 properties have lower estimated taxes in 2018 vs. 2017
    • 4 properties have higher estimated taxes in 2018 vs. 2017
  • Journal Square area near St. Paul’s Church (VCS = SPC1, SPC2)
    • 362 properties have lower estimated taxes in 2018 vs. 2017
    • 212 properties have higher estimated taxes in 2018 vs. 2017
  • Bergen Lafayette (VCS = BLLF)
    • 63 properties have lower estimated taxes in 2018 vs. 2017
    • 683 properties have higher estimated taxes in 2018 vs. 2017
  • Downtown Harsimus Cove (VCS = DTHC)
    •  63 properties have lower estimated taxes in 2018 vs. 28
    • 683 properties have higher estimated taxes in 2018 vs. 481
  • Downtown Hamilton Park (VCS = DTHP)
    •  63 properties have lower estimated taxes in 2018 vs. 21
    • 683 properties have higher estimated taxes in 2018 vs. 535

There are also some noticeable gaps in the data, which will be very interesting to see once its made public.  For instance, I’m interested in seeing data pertaining to Our Lady of Mercy and Country Village, which will, per data released by Jersey City in 2017, see an average of $3,600 in average per-property tax expense decreases.  I’m also interested in seeing data pertaining to Greenville along Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, another systemically over-taxed area that is due for tax relief.

More to come…stay tuned!  Also – I’ll be at Our Lady of Mercy Church on Monday Feb 19th for a property tax workshop starting at 7:30pm. Feel free to come by, meet neighbors also interested in this topic, and learn about the Who/What/When/Where/Why of property tax and revaluation, and ask questions.

Attention Civic Tech experts: mapping this data would be helpful to taxpayers, so they can easily zoom in on their own street and compare assessed values with their neighbors, to gauge fairness of assessed values as determined by the Revaluation firm.  Specifically: two homes of similar structure, type, size, and location (e.g. 2-storey, single family, wood frame house with 1 garage and backyard) should have similar market values, barring other factors (e.g. internal upgrades or other features that would alter price point).  

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