Tips for Public Comment at City Council Meetings

I’ve been asked more than a few times: “Do you have any tips for going in front of the City Council for public comment?” So I figured I’d write up a post about it. There are actually two opportunities to speak at any City Council meeting: During 2nd reading ordinances. At the end of the […]

School Funding & Property Tax 202: The School Tax Levy

This is part of series about school funding, property tax, and community in Jersey City. To read other posts in this series, click here.  In my previous post, I wrote about the tax base: what it is, how we can find its value in public records, and how Jersey City’s value compares with other towns […]

School Funding & Property Tax 201: The Tax Base

This is part of series about school funding, property tax, and community in Jersey City. I’m learning about Jersey City’s tax base, tax levies, and property tax profile so that I can better understand our school funding paradigm. I’m sharing with the community, through this platform, as I learn. To read see the full series, […]

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 […]

NJ Special Education Statistics | #DataViz #OpenData

In this post I’m sharing statewide special education data, with ability to drill into Jersey City special education data specifically, for both Jersey City Public Schools (the public school system) and charter schools attended by Jersey City students. I am sharing the statewide data because it’s informing to see the varying degrees of special education […]

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 Public Schools – A Public Good Requiring Public Funding

Jersey City Public Schools is the city’s largest public good, funded through a combination of state, local, and to a lesser degree, federal tax dollars. In 2018/19 the public schools budget was over $600 million; this is larger than the city’s entire budget.  The schools are a public good because they educate the vast majority […]

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 […]

Jersey City Funding Crisis: Banked Cap, Explained

Jersey City Public Schools: CivicParent Funding FAQs I have been trying to understand how Jersey City Public Schools are funded and am sharing questions I’ve endeavored to answer. As I learn, I’m sharing with the community in the hopes others will also learn and advocate. Where applicable I’ve provided citations and resources so that anyone […]

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’ […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

Love, Hope, & Dignity: A Summit on Immigrant Justice, Advocacy, & Solidarity

On Saturday September 30th from 10am to 2pm St. Aedan’s – The Saint Peter’s University Church sponsored an event on immigration titled “Love, Hope, and Dignity: A Summit on Immigration Justice, Advocacy, and Solidarity”.  Our goals for the Summit included sharing information, helping provide information to the community, listening to those who are worried, and strengthening our […]

Fulop Era Abatements Approved from 2013 to 2016

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 […]

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! […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 – […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

An EMS Contract We Can Believe In

This past week, Mayor Fulop’s administration announced its recommendation to the City Council that Jersey City Medical Center (JCMC) be awarded the 3-year Basic Life Services (“BLS”) EMS contract at zero cost to taxpayers.  This marks a positive, penultimate step in what has been a protracted,  and often contentious, process to award Jersey City’s next 3-year […]

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? […]

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 […]

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 […]

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” […]

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 […]

Civic Hacking with Open JC

Buckle up, Jersey City…the express train towards more transparent government is leaving the station…and its name is Open JC. Open JC Founded in November 2013 by local residents Anna Lukasiak and Stephen Musgrave, Open JC hit the ground running with its Facebook page, meet up group, and website, inviting anyone with an interest in open data, open source, and […]