Ron Main, a Brigantine property owner, has a growing collection of data that suggests many tax assessments are wildly inaccurate. For the past few months, he has made his case to Brigantine’s City Council, who have largely scoffed at his findings. WATCH VIDEO.
Mr. Main sent some of his findings to the State of New Jersey, Office of the State Comptroller on October 17, 2017. (Lightly edited for clarity)
Re: City of Brigantine Tax Practices
Who protects the elderly, the poor and those that can’t fight Brigantine City Hall from being unfairly taxed out of their homes?
I have just finished a study of the City of Brigantine tax evaluation and tax appeal practices. This all started when I was doing a very simple tax appeal for my 2nd home on the island.
When I found un-explainable road blocks, city government hurdles and completely illogical conclusions reached by the Brigantine tax collector, I began to dig deeper.
The following is what I have uncovered. I believe all the information is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge. I have spent hundred hours on this research so far.
I looked at over 300 real estate transactions. I think these results warrant a serious in-depth investigation into the City of Brigantine and it’s tax practices.
- There was a 2014 property revaluation. Based on the 2014 revaluation, a majority of sale prices should be higher than taxed assessed value.
- All sales information from City of Brigantine Tax Office manuals.
- City of Brigantine taxes some non-residents at a higher rate, than some city employees and residents. They misuse NU [non-usable comp sales] to eliminate sales that would justify a lower property value.
- Brigantine does not follow practices and guide lines clearly set by the State of New Jersey. They do not use true value, fair value and market value to establish the taxable value.
Brigantine manipulates sales information to maintain a ratio 85% to 99%, so not to send red flags to NJ State Division of Taxation.
With a 2014 re-evaluation most of the properties should be selling for more than the current tax assessed value and they are not. They block out entire sections of the city as non-usable comps because their real estate value is historically lower than other sections. Then the city comps the lower valued area with a much higher value area in order to defend their assessed value. In my case, they traveled as much as 1.9 miles away for a standard house.
In one case, the Brigantine ignored a $389,000 appraisal done by a Brigantine appraiser. The City assessed the part-time resident’s home value at $689,000.
The building that housed Aunt B’s Ice Cream recently sold for $489,000. It was assessed at $186,000. This property was owned and operated by a former Brigantine City Councilman, Sam Storino. Sammy may have been under-paying by about $7,000 a year.
It looks like the amount of overtaxing could run about six million per year if the numbers hold up.
The City of Brigantine does not appear to allow part-time residents to use [non-usable comp sales] marked 1,2,3,10,15,17,26,28 and 31. The State of NJ is clear that these may be considered in the tax appeal process. The State only uses them for the ‘directors table’ which has nothing to do with the tax appeal process.
Brigantine uses incorrect statements in the tax appeal hearings: new owner tore down the house, house needed some work, neighbor bought the house, owner had to sell. Most of these are not in accordance with the NJ State tax code.
Information taken from books 3, 4 and 5 at the tax office in Brigantine marked 2017
- 89 total sales equaling $ 32,740,053.
- The taxed access value is $ 37,892,300, equaling a 116% ratio
- 50 of the 89 were marked Nus or 56% of the total sales
Brigantine Full Time Residents
11 sales where Brigantine residents: 5 sold at $1,456,000. Their assessed value was $1,818,800. They were over-taxed by $362,000
6 sold for $2,756,500 and were taxed at $2,111,100. They were under taxed by $ 645,400, or an average of $107,566/per property
60 sales, sale price $19,512,553 taxed assessed value $26,306,300. Over-taxed by $6,793,747 or a ratio of 135%
This equals $109,576 per property @ the tax rate of 0.018, which equals an over-charging of $1,972 per property, per year
15 sold at sale price $7,396,000. Tax value $6,491,300, equaling $60,313 per property under-valued
- 81% of part-time residents over valued by 35% or $109,576
- 45% of full-time residents over-valued by $72,560
- 15% of part-time residents are being undervalued by $60,303
- 55% of Brigantine residents are being undervalued by $107,566
Blocks 200 to 800
- 18 sales. 15 over valued by $107,733, or 83% average sale price of $367,865
- 3 sold for above tax value by $ 24,000 or 17%
- 13 of total sales were marked NU [non-usable comp sales] or 72% of all properties sold on the north end. This leaves only three properties to use as comp sales on the complete north end of Brigantine.
Information taken from 2016 Brigantine tax books
- 192 properties total sales $68,853,000, tax value $78,319,200 ratio 114%
- 50 sold for above assessed value by $47,396
- 142 sold for below assessed value by $ 83,351/property
- 91 properties were marked Nus or 47% of the total sales
Part-Time Brigantine Residents
- 119 properties
- 26% sold above tax value by $47,554
- 74% or 88 properties were overvalued by $93,338/property or 25% below assessed value
Full Time Brigantine residents
- 74 properties
- 26% or 19 properties were undervalued by $ 44,432
- 74% or 55 properties were overvalued by $ 65,858
Added items to investigate that show bad financial practices for years;
Ron Main, Brigantine Property Owner: From 2010 to 2012, Councilman Andy Simpson, the Deputy Mayor of Brigantine, avoided $50,000 in real estate taxes. $100,000 in fines were waived. This was captured on video.
Make sure you read “Green Head Politics”. A best-selling book by Patrick Costello. This follows the Director of Public works and his whistle blower information. This is a 177 page road map to corruption in Brigantine.
“Green Head Politics” features the story of how Brigantine settled for over $1 million dollars to keep the case out of court. If a city pays out a million dollars, it’s hard to believe there was no criminal activity.
I presented some of this information to city council on July 15th 2017 during the public speaking portion. You will see in the attached video there was no interest in pursuing it further. That leads me to believe the system is planned and administered intentionally. I also offered to give them my complete excel file on property sales and tax assessed values.
- All current and past tax appeals should be examined by the state.
- The tax payers who have been overcharged since 2014 should be reimbursed.
- If this practice runs back to 2006 the money should be returned to those in which it was taken from.
- A state appointed overseer should be put in place.
- The 6 million in excess funds should be frozen.
Ron Main, Brigantine Property Owner