JERSEY CITY — New assessments released citywide as part of the long-delayed property revaluation are exposing anew divisions between residents of Jersey City’s Downtown and those who live in the city’s less affluent neighborhoods.
Hundreds of Downtown residents have crowded community centers, churches and schools in recent weeks to express anger about the enormous tax hikes expected to accompany their new assessments. The owners of one Washington Street brownstone may see their annual tax bill increase by $36,066.
The story is markedly different in areas of Greenville, the West Side and the Heights, where residents are seeing dramatic decreases in their proposed tax bills. Homeowners in the County Village section could see their taxes plunge by more than 60 percent.
Community leaders on the city’s south side have said for years that residents there are overtaxed compared to Downtown residents, a disparity they say was aggravated by Mayor Steve Fulop’s decision to halt a reval that started in 2011. At a tense community meeting in April 2016, the Rev. Alonzo Perry Sr. warned Fulop that stalling the reval was hurting the city’s poorer residents and benefiting wealthier taxpayers.
Today, as residents are finally getting a look at their new assessments, Perry told The Jersey Journal his warning has been proven right.
“We’ve seen that a lot of the development Downtown was being subsidized by people in the poor areas of the community,” he said. “The numbers bear that.”
When the reval wraps up later this year, it will be the first complete citywide reval since 1988. The process is intended to square every property’s assessment — its value on city tax rolls — with its true market value.
The 30-year delay between revals is leading to skyrocketing assessments and tax hikes, especially Downtown, where property values since 1988 have risen at an extraordinary clip.
A meeting about the reval last night at Downtown’s Grace Church Van Vorst drew more than 100 people, including Mark Steier, an attorney who lives in a rowhouse on Jersey Avenue, blocks from the Grove Street PATH station. The assessment on Steier’s single-family home could jump from $140,000 to $1,014,000, and his annual tax bill from $10,920 to $16,427.
“It’s a wallop,” he told The Jersey Journal.
Grim-faced residents gathered inside the church told Fulop and Downtown Councilman James Solomon that the proposed tax hikes would force them out of their homes and change the fabric of Downtown Jersey City.
“They’re killing the people,” said Jim Rivera, whose Jersey Avenue rowhouse is slated for a $6,459 tax hike. The house has been in Rivera’s family for 50 years, he said.
The new assessments are still only proposed — homeowners can appeal them — and the tax hikes are tentative until the city, county and school district adopt 2018 budgets.
Solomon — whose own tax bill may rise from $4,547 to $11,167 — told The Jersey Journal he understands homeowners’…