Jefferson Mayor provides Clarity on Rolling Assessment – Court Ordered Stop – No External Political Influence

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Hopatcong Lake Regional News received a Press Release from Council Candidates Fadden, Peters, and Short on thanking the Mayor for taking their advice on Rolling Tax Assessment.

The following is an update on what happened behind the scenes, without advice from Fadden, Peters, and Short.

Message from Mayor Eric Wilsusen

I have no issue giving credit where credit is due; after reading the article in the Hopatcong Lake News, neither the Democratic candidates for Town Council nor I can take credit for the decision to transition back to the standard method of tax assessment from the current rolling reassessment program. I feel I need to respond to the campaign's misinformation.

There was no choice to discontinue the rolling reassessment program, and it was certainly not because the candidates and their campaign made it an issue.  As reported in the Jefferson Chronicle, from the September 15th Council meeting, and as explained in my recent fall newsletter, a lawsuit was filed in Passaic County based on the City of Paterson's rolling reassessment program. The court ruling ordered that only municipalities in Middlesex County could participate in the State approved pilot rolling reassessment program.

The court decision is the only reason the Township of Jefferson is reverting back to the traditional method of revaluation in 2021.

The candidate's statement that the rolling reassessment program damaged property values and hurt school funding in our community is false. I challenge the campaign to back up their arguments with evidence.  It is obvious the candidates do not understand the tax reassessment and revaluation process, which is regulated by NJ law and not something the Township of Jefferson made up. The candidates never met with anyone from my administration to obtain information on the rolling reassessment program to understand the process and purpose. It is a shame when running for an elected office that only two of the three candidates have barely attended Council meetings until recently to understand any of the issues our Township is facing or working on or to even ask questions.

To clarify some of the other statements issued. Residential assessments to this day are done in person; homes are inspected by township personnel in addition to private assessment contractors. have attended many meetings over the past year with our school administration and BOE members to discuss the devastating cuts our school district faces.  I invited and met with State Senator Pennacchio and Assemblyman Jay Webber to meet with our school officials to discuss school funding and the deep cuts to our district. Never once was it mentioned or discussed that the rolling reassessment program had any impact on school funding? Our State Legislators cannot even get their hands on how school funding is calculated! Not sure how the campaign is privy to this information as the State Department of Education will not release the formula.

I am more than happy to work with our Democratic candidates now and in the future to best serve our community, but I cannot stand by and allow misinformation to be disseminated to score political points in a campaign. 

Note: According to the Democratic Campaign manager for Fadden, Peters, and Short, the issue was was first raised by their team on August 15, 2020, who felt homes didn’t need to be assessed annually and were unsure where the Mayor stood on the project.

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