MORRISTOWN – Local properties will undergo a citywide reassessment for the first time in nearly two decades starting next month, although city officials have stressed the process will not automatically equate to an increase taxes.
The upcoming reassessment, which has been mandated by the Morris County Tax Board, will begin with fieldwork for commercial properties during the first week of August, the city announced on its website this week. The evaluation of the residences should last from the end of September to December.
Morristown City Council is hosting a public information session at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 27 in the Council Chambers at City Hall. Employees of Appraisal Systems, Inc., the company performing the appraisal, will be present to discuss the reassessment and answer any questions regarding the process.
The reassessment would be the first in the community of 20,000 since 2004 and will come after years of major redevelopment projects across the city. In an online statement that outlined key aspects of the reassessment, Morristown stressed that the process does not mean all residents and business owners will pay higher property taxes.
“Reassessments are not an opportunity for Morristown to raise more money to support citywide services; rather, a reassessment is a residential, commercial, or property assessment that ensures property taxes are distributed fairly across the community,” the announcement reads. “This reassessment will ensure that all Morristown residents know the full and fair value of their property and pay their fair share of taxes.”
The average residential property in the city was valued at nearly $357.00 last year, with an average property tax bill of $10,240, according the State Department of Community Affairs.
Any tax changes on an individual property will depend on its value relative to the city’s total tax base, the city said in its statement. If a residential assessment increases by less than the increase in Morristown’s total value, that owner would actually see the tax rate drop, the city said.
Starting in September, rating system inspectors will visit homes between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to gather information for reassessments. If a resident is not home on the first visit, the employee will leave a card with instructions for scheduling an inspection. Company representatives will make a second unscheduled visit if they do not hear from the resident.
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Each reassessment consists of an exterior inspection, which includes measurements and photographs of a property’s exterior, and an interior inspection, which requires entry into each building. Inspectors will note features such as number of bathrooms and age of the property and check measurements inside homes and businesses.
In its statement, the city urged homeowners to work with inspectors, saying if they can’t get inside a home, they “will make certain assumptions based on exterior conditions and neighborhood characteristics.” . This could result in a property being appraised at a higher value than its actual value.
For security reasons, all Appraisal Systems representatives will carry photo identification and register their name with the Morristown Police Department, the city said. Employees have all undergone extensive background checks, and their ID and vehicle make and model will be displayed on the Company Website.
Inspectors will also be required to wear face masks during inspections due to COVID-19 concerns. Residents who are not comfortable letting someone into their home for health reasons can schedule a virtual interior inspection, according to the city.
Morristown will share more details about the reassessment process, including timelines and informational graphics and videos, on its website and social media platforms in the coming days, officials said. All documents will be posted at www.townofmorristown.org.