Jersey City homeowners looking for answers after property tax hikes

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Lifelong Jersey City resident Mary Harnett, 81, went to one of her neighborhood meetings looking for a solution to a potentially crippling financial problem.

“We can’t stop people from coming to buy a house here, but we don’t’ have to suffer for it," Harnett said.

Jersey City is finally going through its first property revaluation in 30 years, and at least a full quarter of the city’s residents, most of them in the downtown district, including Mary, are now paralyzed with sticker shock.

“I was paying $5,77-something dollars and now it’s up to $13,9—something,” Harnett said.

PIX11 News told you about this troubling, and inevitable situation last week.

Inevitable, because Jersey City is under orders from the state to reassess its properties, and troubling because homeowners like Marie Borelli, who we met last week, and saw again at this meeting, are consequently looking at significant annual property tax increases.

“I’m not a spring chicken anymore, and I want to retire, and this is not the way I thought this could happen,” said borelli.

In Marie’s case, $16,000-$41,000 a year.

Executives from the appraisal company hired to facilitate the revaluation, did their best to address frustrated residents, telling them “for everybody that tripled, there’s somebody that’s gone down by a factor of three.”

However, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, speaking from City Hall, told us what these homeowners will ultimately have to accept in time.

A majority of resident will see tax relief, but for those who are not outside of a successful appeal of their new assessments, there is no way around a painful new property tax bill. Period.

“The argument is that, look, if your house is worth $2.5 million, you should pay taxes that are consistent with a house worth $2.5 million, and not have somebody else subsidize that. I know that’s not something people want to hear, and I sympathize with that, but the law is the law, and we have to follow that process,” Mayor Fulop said.

Ms. Harnett countered, “I’m 81 years old. Where am I going? I live here my entire life. I don’t want to go anywhere’s else.”