A Bipartisan bill designed to save taxpayer money by pooling resources county-wide to conduct property assessments has been approved by an Assembly panel. The sponsors feel that the legislation is particularly timely in the wake of super-storm Sandy as hard-hit towns struggle with the burden of conducting massive numbers of reassessments on properties that were destroyed or severely damaged.

Homes in Mantoloking damaged from Sandy (Andy Chase, Townsquare Media NJ)

The legislation would create a property assessment demonstration program that would be open for participation by up to four counties to demonstrate a more cost-effective and accurate property assessment program to save taxpayers money.

“We need a better system that saves taxpayers money by streamlining and sharing services, while providing relief to towns facing losses from tax appeals,” says Assemblyman Dan Benson. ”Protecting taxpayers needs to be our priority, and we need to try new and different ways. This is an approach that offers potential savings and deserves an opportunity to succeed.”

Under the bill, each town in a chosen county would use the same property assessment software, and all future revaluations and reassessments will be performed on that system. The system will also be used for other assessment-based functions, such as the development of a compliance plan, maintenance of assessments and the calculation of added assessments.

Assemblywoman Celeste Riley explains, “It makes sense that countywide assessments would save money and resolve confusion and conflicts, so it’s definitely worth exploring.”

No more than four counties may participate in the program as demonstration counties; no more than two in the first two full tax years after the bill’s enactment, and not more than two more in the third and fourth full tax years after the bill’s enactment. No state funds will be necessary for the implementation of this demonstration program. The county board of taxation in a demonstration county will absorb the cost through assessment appeal filing fees already collected by the board.