Jersey City & NJ: Student Group Data from NJ School Performance Reports (A Focus on ELL, At-Risk, and Special Education Students)

The NJ Department of Education publishes annual data relating to certain “student groups”, per school. The table below focuses on three groups that, per state funding law, are entitled to more funding based on the level of need. These groups are: At-risk students, defined as lower income students who qualify for free or reduced lunch … Read more

NJ Property Tax Dashboard | #OpenData #DataViz

This is a property tax dashboard for NJ residents who may be interested in learning about the property tax profile of their municipality, including: 1) Latest available (Tax Year 2017) property tax metrics available from NJ’s Property Tax portal. 2) Tax base growth chart from 1988 to 2017 – how has your town’s tax base … Read more

Jersey City: How Your City Council Voted on Tax Abatements

Shown below are details about abatements that City Council President Rolando Lavarro voted for between the time period July 2013 and August 2016. By sharing this data, the aim is to better inform the public about the scope and impact of the Council’s abatement votes. More to come about other Council representatives’ abatement voting records.

Jersey City Property Tax Appeals: A Civic Step-by-Step Overview

For the past 4 years I’ve been researching and writing about property taxes and revaluation (among other topics) on CivicParent. In the past year I’ve also written about tax appeals and I also served on a team of Jersey City Together volunteers in 2017 that helped over 30 residents save over $40,000 in tax expense … Read more

Jersey City Property Tax Appeals: A Civic Overview

In December 2017 I shared how to determine if your new assessment is fair or not. In this post I’m adding new information, including a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), about the appeals process. Property tax appeals in Jersey City are due June 18th, 2018. This means: you must file your appeal by June 18th.  The … Read more

Making Sense of Your New Tax Post Card

I received my new tax postcard in the mail yesterday so I figured I’d share a breakdown of how to read it. This is very similar to the former tax post card, with some notable exceptions: You can now see your NEW tax assessed value. This is the value assigned to your property by Appraisal … Read more

Property Revaluation Update: 202 out of 206 Homes on Neptune Ave in Greenville #JerseyCity were Over-Taxed.

I’ve got another Revaluation update, this one focused on Neptune Avenue which is an East/West street that stretches pretty much across Jersey City’s south Greenville neighborhood.  Similar to other Greenville Revaluation-related updates, this is a story of systemic overtaxation that is being fixed with Revaluation. First, some high level details about the data. Appraisal Systems’ … Read more

Country Village Revaluation Update: $3+ Million Estimated Tax Expense Reduction (and counting…)

March 18 2018.  Appraisal Systems released a new batch of assessments on March 16th – the same day Jersey City’s public school teachers went on strike.  So…this latest update wasn’t covered in the news.  It should be though; finally, Country Village homes are listed.  Per estimates released by Jersey City in December 2017, Country Village … Read more

Quick Analysis: Tax Expense Change on the West Side, south of Lincoln Park

February 27, 2018.  Appraisal Systems released a new batch of assessments this morning and I was most curious about tax change in systemically over-taxed areas.  I was hoping streets in Country Village would be listed because, per estimates released by Jersey City in December 2017, Country Village is expected to see the largest dollar-for-dollar tax … Read more

Property Tax Rate Math: A Quick Breakdown

February 25, 2018. I got a question recently about the tax rate as it relates to property taxes. It prompted me to write about the tax rate in a bit more detail to explain how the tax rate is changing, why it’s changing, and what to expect in the coming months as the Revaluation unfolds.  … Read more

Jersey City 2017 Sales for Class “2” (1-4 Family) Properties, Mapped

This post is part of my effort to share information about Jersey City’s Property Revaluation.  I wrote a Revaluation series last year which you can read  here.   In a citywide revaluation, your new assessment should equal your market value.  When establishing market value of your home, one set of data that can be useful is … Read more

Am I Paying Too Much in Property Tax?

Figure out your ASSESSED value ASSESSED Value = Your home’s value according to the GOVERNMENT. Your assessed value is what the city thinks your property is worth for property taxation purposes. It is the basis on which your tax bill is computed each year: Your Annual Tax Expense = Assessed Value x Tax Rate Assessed … Read more

Why Property Revaluation is a Social Justice Imperative in Jersey City

Jersey City property taxes, as seen through state compliance data: Jersey City’s last citywide revaluation was in 1988. Jersey City’s 2017 equalization ratio is 23.66%. Jersey City’s 2017 coefficient of deviation is 35.66%. On this map: Green = under-taxed |  Red = over-taxed NJ property tax law is based on this foundational premise: assessed values are supposed … Read more

Who/What/When/Where/Why of Property Revaluation

WHO conducted Jersey City’s property revaluation? In 2016 Jersey City hired Appraisal Systems, Inc. for $4.4 million to conduct the revaluation. Here are some helpful links about the firm: ASI’s website page for Jersey City residents here. ASI’s generic powerpoint that explains the Revaluation process is here. This is an excellent overview of the general process. … Read more

Jersey City Together Helped Homeowners Save $40,000+ via Tax Appeal Workshops

Jersey City Together Tax Appeal Workshop. In March 2017 I worked with a team of Jersey City Together leaders to provide a tax appeals workshop.  We invited homeowners to meet with us to determine if their homes were over-assessed which, in turn, helped us determine if they were over-taxed. It was a cooperative civic action involving … Read more

Fulop Era Abatements Approved from 2013 to 2016 (Part 1 – the Map)

I’m sharing a new map I created that pin-drops all abatements approved since Mayor Fulop and the current City Council took office*, i.e. since the summer of 2013.  I created the map after reading Terrence McDonald‘s recent article from the Jersey Journal titled “Has Steve Fulop Evolved on Tax Abatements?”  It’s a valid question and … Read more

JCPS Funding 201: How JCPS Spends Its Money…A High Level Primer

I detailed in my last post how the JCPS budget is funded by a mix of state, local, and federal tax dollars.  But how is that money then spent? That is the main focus of this post.  Governor Christie approved a budget this week that included $8.5 million in state aid cuts to Jersey City Public Schools … Read more

JCPS Funding 101: Why Possible State Aid Cuts = “Major Hardship”

I will be writing about this issue as it unfolds, it’s a big topic that taxpayers should understand.   This is a quick primer on why the Sweeney-Prieto proposal to cut $8.5 million in state aid from Jersey City Public Schools would, to use Superintendent Dr. Lyles term, cause a “major hardship” for the district. … Read more

Op-Ed Follow-Up: Get the Facts & Figures About Abatements & Public School Funding in Jersey City

I teamed up with Ellen Simon to co-author an op-ed in The Jersey Journal about how Jersey City’s PILOT policy harms our public schools. The article is dense with facts, figures, and assertions. To ensure our assertions are as accessible as possible to the public, I’ve created a landing page to help readers sort through the … Read more

Jersey City Revaluation: Interactive Map Now Available from ASI, Inc.

Jersey City is undergoing a multi-month Revaluation process and appraisal firm ASI, Inc. is currently assessing all properties throughout the city.  I wrote about the April 3rd Ward “A” revaluation presentation, hosted by ASI, Inc, and one promise from that meeting: that an interactive assessment map would be made available. Good news – that map is now available! … Read more

Jersey City Revaluation: Intro from ASI Inc, the firm doing the Revaluation

I attended the Ward “A” revaluation meeting on April 3rd and had a chance to listen to a representative from Appraisal Systems, Inc., the third-party appraisal firm hired by Jersey City to conduct the revaluation.  Mark Duda presented; he is an ASI executive and the designated ASI “project manager” for Jersey City’s revaluation. ASI, Inc. is one of … Read more

Fulop’s Spokesperson Wrong on Property Tax Appeals Logic

Steven Fulop’s press person, Jennifer Morrill, made an egregious error on the record this month when she characterized tax appeals as not being based on sales prices.  Tax appeals are, in fact, based explicitly on recent comparable sales prices. Ms. Morrill’s statement was in response to a story about a local resident, April Kuzas, who recently … Read more

Mapping Jersey City’s Abatements by Project Type and Ward

If you are new to the topic of abatements, I recommend my tax abatement series here.  I’ve updated my 2015 long-term abatement map to include 2016 data. The map is provided below, along with reports showing underlying data grouped by project type (affordable housing vs. market) and by ward. Source data was derived from the city’s user friendly … Read more

An Analysis of 2015 Jersey City Property Sales – by Ward

This is a guest post from Jersey City resident and mortgage industry professional Susan Kulakowski.  Susan reached out to me after reading my last post, “Property Revaluation 501: Mapping & Color Coding Jersey City Home Sales by Assessment-Sales Ratio.”  She analyzed the map’s underlying data and provided a ward-specific lens into the upcoming property revaluation. She offered … Read more

Property Revaluation 501: Mapping & Color Coding Jersey City Home Sales by Assessment-Sales Ratio

This post is part of an ongoing series about property revaluation in Jersey City.   I partnered with CivicJC to create an interactive map to help residents visualize 2015 property sales in Jersey City and their corresponding taxes. Recent property sales are informing because they are used as a proxy for market value when establishing the city’s annual equalization ratio. Click here to … Read more

Property Revaluation 401: Tax Appeal Math (Chapter 123 Law)

This is part of an ongoing series about property revaluation in Jersey City.  Note: this post presumes an understanding of the equalization ratio, which I previously wrote about in “Property Revaluation 101: the Equalization Ratio.”  With Jersey City officials recently announcing that they would finally move forward with a property revaluation, a common question has emerged: “is my home currently under-assessed, … Read more

Property Revaluation 301: Estimating Your Post-Revaluation Tax Bill

This is part of an ongoing series about property revaluation in Jersey City. Please note, an update given new state tax data reported in 2017: the 2016 equalized tax rate is reported to be 1.86%.  This is the best predictor of what the new tax rate will be, post-Revaluation.  I’ve been asked by a few people: “How … Read more

Property Revaluation 201: Quantifying Tax Inequity (A Simple Example)

This is part of an ongoing series about property revaluation in Jersey City.  In my last post, I explained how Jersey City’s low equalization ratio was a cause for revaluation.  The reason: when a city’s equalization ratio is low, its market values have grown out of sync with its assessed values, and that opens the door to potential tax … Read more

Property Revaluation 101: the Equalization Ratio

This the first post in a series about property revaluation in Jersey City. Jersey City has been growing at a breakneck speed for the past fifteen years.  As a city grows, it is required to stop along the way and revalue its real estate.  This process is termed “revaluation.”  Revaluation is about ensuring that tax assessed values – … Read more

Jersey City PILOTs Rob Funding from the School System

A strong public school system is essential bedrock to a healthy community. Yet in Jersey City, our bedrock is threatened by a fiscal policy that is over-reliant on PILOTs.  Here’s the crux of the problem: PILOTs help grow the city, which in turn increases demand for public schools.  But PILOTed residents don’t pay school tax, leaving taxpayers to bear the burden of … Read more

Mapping Abatements in Jersey City

As I explained in my last post, transparency around abatements is finally, slowly, increasing.  As data is unlocked, taxpayers can glean greater insight into how their tax dollars are spent.  To help with this effort, I’ve mapped the 146 abatements from Jersey City’s 2015 “user friendly budget” into an easy-to-use Google map. Let’s Get Civic with … Read more

Tax Abatements 601: Brighter Sunshine Mandated for NJ Abatements

Tax abatement reporting in Jersey City is finally getting more transparent.  Two distinct authoritative bodies have mandated changes that require Jersey City (and other cities) to get onboard the transparency train. This news should come as a relief to taxpayers since abatements now constitute over 20% of Jersey City’s annual revenue yet have been sharply criticized by the NJ Comptroller as being too opaque and … Read more

Press Releases, Property Taxes, and the Value of Spin

Mayor Fulop announced last week the hiring of a new communications director for Jersey City, 26-year old Ryan Jacobs, at a salary of $110,000.  The current communications director, Jennifer Morrill, earns $100,614 and will remain as press secretary “to assist…with day to day operations.”  Jersey City taxpayers are now paying over $200,000 for spokesperson duties. A city … Read more

Why Taxes Are Rising in Jersey City

This is my 2nd article in a series about property taxes in Jersey City. The 1st article, “Jersey City Rising,” is available here.  The General tax rate in Jersey City has increased 67% over the past seventeen years, from 4.46 in 1998 to 7.43 in 2014.  Over this time period, there has been no City-wide revaluation, so this … Read more

Jersey City Rising

Jersey City is a community on the rise. In the past ten years, dozens of new buildings have risen towards the sky along the waterfront, more residents are moving in, and public school enrollment is on the upswing.  But as buildings, residents, and school enrollments have risen, so too have property taxes; for the average Jersey City … Read more

Open Letter to City Council – Ordinance 14.136: Why Should Taxpayers Take on Variable Interest Rates?‏

I sent this letter to the City Council members this morning.  If you live in Jersey City and have similar concerns about funding variable interest rates, please feel free to copy/paste this letter and send from your own email account, or call your Council reps.  Contact info is provided below the letter.  Background on Open Letter On August … Read more

City Hall Annex: Concerns About the Fine Print

Jersey City currently rents office space at several locations other than City Hall for a total of about $2.7 million per year.  To cut costs and give residents a single location (other than City Hall) to access services, the City wants to create a City Hall Annex (“the Annex”).  A key question has become: how much money should the City pay for the new space? … Read more

Mayor Fulop, About the Annex…

On Wednesday, June 4, 2014 at 7:30pm, the Hamilton Park Neighborhood Association (HPNA) will host Mayor Steven Fulop for Q&A during their monthly meeting.  One issue likely to be discussed is the community building at 180 9th Street — aka “the Cordero Annex” or “the former Golden Door Charter School.”  The building has been the subject of contention in recent months due to … Read more

Jersey City, We Have A Problem.

Jersey City has been estimating the cost of its abatements incorrectly for at least eight years, and the impact to conventional taxpayers could amount to millions of dollars. Here’s the problem: Jersey City has been under-counting the number of (a) residents and (b) public school students that will eventually live in each abated building.  The City has been using … Read more

Abatements 501: A Critique of Mayor Fulop’s “Buy Up” Abatement Policy

In my Abatement Series, I’ve discussed the basic premise of abatements, how they are funded, and the impact to conventional taxpayers.  In this post I look at Mayor Fulop’s new tax abatement policy for Jersey City, which includes two notable components: Tiering System: A system of awarding abatements based on geographic location or project type1.  Each “tier” … Read more

What Does 1.88 Students Look Like?

On Wednesday night, the City Council approved an 80-unit abatement in downtown Hamilton Park.  Here are some of the specs on the property: located at 9th & Brunswick in downtown Hamilton Park a community the abatement will extend for 20 years contain 80 units, including 20 3-bedroom units and 35 2-bedroom units 1.88 kids from the building will attend the … Read more

Tax Abatements 401: The Transparency Issue

In his 2010 report, “A Programmatic Examination of Tax Abatements,” NJ Comptroller A. Matthew Boxer highlighted numerous weaknesses with abatements.  One issue he touched upon was transparency.  He stated, “Information concerning abatement[s]…is not published in a transparent manner or centralized location, making it difficult to impossible for the public to compare, calculate the effect of, … Read more

Tax Abatements 301: Two Sides of the Same PILOT

This is article #3 in my series about abatements.  Article #1 is “Tax Abatements 101: The Basics” and Article #2 is “Tax Abatements 201: Abatement Impact on Conventional Taxpayers.” In my previous post, “Tax Abatements 201: Abatement Impact on Conventional Taxpayers”, I focused on the orange slice of the pie pieces below.  In this post I … Read more

Tax Abatements 201: Abatement Impact on Conventional Taxpayers

This is Article #2 in my series about abatements, which focuses on the impact abatements have on conventional taxpayers.  My first post, “Abatement Basics,” is located here.  How important are abatements to Jersey City residents?  The answer: extremely important.  Abatement revenues – also known as PILOTs, or “payments in lieu of taxes” – have increased from 3% of … Read more

Tax Abatements 101: A Basic Overview

Mayor Fulop signed his abatement policy into effect by executive order on December 24, 2013.  The policy was a clear departure from his campaign pledge, which included the promise to allocate abatement revenue to a “dedicated, non-discretionary account for education funding.”  This prompted me to question: how effective is the new abatement policy, and what impact will it have … Read more

An Open Letter to Mayor Fulop and the City Council of Jersey City Regarding Basic Life Support (“BLS”) EMS Contract

This letter was emailed to the Mayor and all nine City Council members on December 26, 2013 at 11:04am.   Date:        December 26, 2013 From:       Brigid D’Souza, Yoo Lee, Matt Schoenfeld Subject:  Concerns Regarding Basic Life Support (“BLS”) Emergency Medical Services (“EMS”) Contract To:            Mayor and … Read more

Let’s Get Civic

The genesis of CivicParent.org…. I live in Jersey City and on November 14, 2013 I learned that Mayor Fulop’s first abatement – the 3 towers planned for Journal Square – would not include dedicated funding for Jersey City public schools.  I also learned that five City Council members, all of whom were Fulop-endorsed candidates,  approved … Read more