Liquor and a reassessment, a fun night in Moorestown

Working against a deadline of the end of January, Moorestown Township council members agreed to move ahead with a reassessment of township properties to better adjust the towns overall property value.

Township Manager Scott Carew stressed to council members that a decision on the reassessment needed to be made before the month was out for the changes to take effect in 2012.

Carew said the reassessment would do two things, namely mitigate the tax appeals due to the economy and mitigate tax appeals due to the revaluation that was completed in 2007.

“The reassessment will help level it all out,” Carew said.

Carew stressed the reassessment would not be bringing in more taxes for the township. The tax rate would likely go up, he said, but the total amount of taxes being brought in would not change.

Taxes will go up for some, stay the same for others and decrease for others as well, he said. It’s not a magic pill to decrease taxes throughout the entire township.

“Those that do go up, I can say that you are paying lower taxes than you should be right now,” Carew said.

Both financial manager Tom Merchel and tax assessor David DeKlerk supported the decision to go through with the reassessment.

Two financial institutions have given the township estimates for the revaluation, ranging from $195,000 to $223,000 for the work. The cost of the last revaluation was more than $600,000, because it hadn’t been done for the past 20 years.

It was previously reported that in 2007, the township underwent a complete revaluation of its property to update its tax base. Unfortunately, the action was taken before one of the biggest real estate market crashes in the history of this country and in the past four years the township has lost over $3 million in tax appeals.

DeKlerk reported that in 2007, the township lost $37,000 in tax appeals; in 2008 it lost $1.5 million, in 2009 it lost $255,000; and in 2010, it lost $873,000. Finally, so far in 2011, DeKlerk said the township has lost $587,000 in appeals.

He estimated that there could potentially be another $2 million lost in appeals in the next two years.

Mayor John Button said the idea is sound, but the township needs to disseminate information to the public about exactly what the process will entail — and what the reassessment will do to property values.

In other township news:

The members of council unanimously approved an ordinance on first reading to amend the consumption and sale of alcohol laws in the township.

The ordinance will allow for the sale of alcohol in the township following a referendum vote in November that approved the creation of liquor licenses in the township.

Township Solicitor Thomas Coleman said a resolution would have to be drafted after the ordinance is approved on second reading.

The resolution would detail the restrictions and limitations for the sale of liquor in Moorestown.