SCOTCH PLAINS – When township property owners open their tax bills in the coming days, they may be pleasantly surprised that the amount due is lower than expected.
At last week’s township council meeting, Township Manager Al Mirabella said fourth-quarter tax bills, which will be sent out by Thursday, October 1, if not sooner, will be lower than the third-quarter bills. That is because third-quarter bills were higher than usual because they were estimated. Mr. Mirabella explained that relevant state officials had been unable to certify the tax rates in most municipalities in the spring due to the Covid-19 pandemic shutdowns. For that reason, third-quarter bills were sent out late and were estimated, rather than more accurately calculated.
Township Chief Financial Officer Theodore Georgiou told Mr. Mirabella that total third-quarter property-tax bills were, on average, $82 higher for an assessed property than they normally would have been. To rectify that, the upcoming fourth-quarter tax bill will be, on average, about $164 lower, depending on the individual valuation of one’s property. Mr. Mirabella emphasized that fourth-quarter bills “will be lower than the third quarter — for all.”
Both Mr. Mirabella and Mayor Alexander Smith last week emphasized that the lower fourth-quarter charges cover the total property-tax bill, not just the municipal portion, which comprises about 16 percent of local property-tax bills. This year’s municipal budget is being financed in part by $15.38 million in local property taxes, and the municipal tax rate was frozen this year at $1.534 per $100 of assessed value. The local tax rate is set each year when the council adopts its annual budget in the spring; the tax rate affects tax bills in the third and fourth quarters of the present year and the first two quarters of the following year.