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Wayne Mayor Has ‘Major Concerns’ About Cost Of School Bond Up For Vote

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Wayne Mayor Has ‘Major Concerns’ About Cost Of School Bond Up For Vote


WAYNE, NJ — Wayne Township’s mayor said he has “major concerns” about the size of and cost an upcoming bond coming before voters in March, and its future financial effects.

Mayor Christopher Vergano shared his hesitations of the forthcoming $169.8 million bond proposal at the Township Council meeting on Wednesday, and again in a video message on Thursday. He said he anticipates the referendum will be defeated, and proposed presenting a smaller bond issue at a later time.

“The 62 proposed projects need to be prioritized, and the most important projects should be placed in a new referendum…in the fall,” he said. “I believe that this bond exceeds what we can afford.”

On March 12, Wayne Township voters will be asked to approve the sale of bonds, with state aid already committed to covering $39 million of those costs. A community forum discussing the proposal, which is aimed at enhancing facilities across all 15 schools within the K–12 district, is scheduled to take place on Thursday, Feb. 15.

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If voters approve, the district will be able to sell bonds, which will be repaid over time through property taxes. The voter registration deadline is Feb. 20.

The average tax contribution for a home assessed at Wayne Township’s average ($229,473) would be about $370 more a year, and would drop once the Anthony Wayne Middle School investment is paid off in 2025, the district said.

Vergano also talked about the tax impact for residential and commercial developments in town, including Willowbrook Mall, Wayne Towne Center, and residential development Mountainview Crossing.

In a statement, the Wayne Board of Education said it was “irresponsible” not to prepare for the “influx of students” who will be joining the district once multiple housing projects are finished in the township.

“The Board of Education, administration, and staff have been working together for three years to examine facility needs while evaluating the ongoing housing development plans being carried out by Mayor Vergano and members of the Town Council,” board members said in a response to TAPinto.

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“While hundreds of projects were evaluated, only 62 were selected because each of those projects meet health and safety needs, maintain existing facilities, address increased enrollment, and generate state aid to reduce the burden on taxpayers,” the statement said.

The community session will start at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 15, at Wayne Hills High School Auditorium, 272 Berdan Ave.



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Hotel owners in N.J. reminded to make sure housekeepers have panic devices

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Hotel owners in N.J. reminded to make sure housekeepers have panic devices


Under the law, hotel employers must supply, pay for and maintain panic devices, which can alert hotel managers or security guards. Some of the devices will set off a siren when activated.

The panic device law also requires hotels to keep a record of the accusations it receives and maintain the name of the accused guest on a list for five years from the date of the incident. The law also specifies any suspected misconduct or criminal activity must be reported to law enforcement.

In addition, the law prohibits employers from punishing any employee who activates a panic device, and the employer must notify other employees of the presence and location of any accused guests and allow them to opt out of servicing such locations.

The law stipulates the hotel, motel or inn must also immediately reassign the hotel employee who activated the panic device to a different work area away from the accused guest’s room for the duration of their stay.

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Hotels that violate the law can be subject to a fine of up to $5,000 for the first violation and $10,000 for subsequent violations.

“The hospitality, entertainment, travel tourism industry is huge in New Jersey, it employs thousands of hotel workers,” Asaro-Angelo said. “Because this industry is so vital to our state it’s even more vital we protect the workers who work here.”

He noted the device can be worn on a chain around the neck, or it may be a type of two-way radio that can be carried in a pocket.

There are currently about 350 hotels, motels, inns and guest houses that have 100 or more rooms in New Jersey.

Some big brand hotel chains, including Marriott and Hilton, have distributed panic devices across the nation to all their employees who work alone in guest rooms.

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According to a Labor Department spokesperson, the agency is focused on panic device law awareness and education, and has not issued any fines or penalties yet.



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Essex County Homeowners Pay Highest Property Taxes In New Jersey

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Essex County Homeowners Pay Highest Property Taxes In New Jersey


ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — Which towns and cities in Essex County are the hardest-hit when it comes to property taxes? It depends how you look at it, the latest data shows.

The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs recently released the 2023 property tax tables for each town and city in the state. On average, New Jersey property owners paid $9,803 in property taxes on a home valued at $365,661 – about $300 more than the previous year. Read More: NJ Property Taxes Hit A New High

Property taxes are always a hot-button issue in Essex County, which routinely ranks as one of the most-heavily taxed in the nation.

In total, the average Essex County property owner paid $13,448 in taxes on a home valued at $428,538 last year – the highest in New Jersey. Out of the 15 towns with the highest average taxes, five are located in Essex County: Millburn, Glen Ridge, Montclair, South Orange and Essex Fells.

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Here are the latest tallies, ranked by highest taxes (totals don’t include credits and deductions):

  1. Millburn – $24,947 average tax bill on a home valued at $1,275,642
  2. Glen Ridge – $22,605 average tax bill on a home valued at $670,102
  3. Montclair – $21,415 average tax bill on a home valued at $633,605
  4. South Orange – $21,287 average tax bill on a home valued at $585,351
  5. Essex Fells – $20,335 average tax bill on a home valued at $937,969
  6. Maplewood – $18,266 average tax bill on a home valued at $505,213
  7. North Caldwell – $17,593 average tax bill on a home valued at $794,090
  8. Livingston – $16,888 average tax bill on a home valued at $712,139
  9. West Orange – $15,475 average tax bill on a home valued at $336,591
  10. Verona – $13,258 average tax bill on a home valued at $433,026
  11. Caldwell – $13,197 average tax bill on a home valued at $425,488
  12. Nutley – $12,650 average tax bill on a home valued at $491,074
  13. West Caldwell – $12,068 average tax bill on a home valued at $446,864
  14. Cedar Grove – $12,022 average tax bill on a home valued at $475,225
  15. Orange – $11,762 average tax bill on a home valued at $315,612
  16. Bloomfield – $11,561 average tax bill on a home valued at $353,851
  17. Belleville – $10,909 average tax bill on a home valued at $278,760
  18. Roseland – $10,887 average tax bill on a home valued at $470,368
  19. Fairfield – $10,862 average tax bill on a home valued at $529,188
  20. East Orange – $10,205 average tax bill on a home valued at $322,128
  21. Irvington – $9,013 average tax bill on a home valued at $148,422
  22. Newark – $7,069 average tax bill on a home valued at $189,640

It’s worth noting that some experts have pointed out that a high tax bill doesn’t necessarily mean a homeowner is getting ripped off – it depends on what you get for the money.

“While no taxpayers in high-tax jurisdictions will be celebrating their yearly payments, it’s worth noting that property taxes are largely rooted in the ‘benefit principle’ of government finance – the people paying the bills are most often the ones benefiting from the services,” researchers from The Tax Foundation recently wrote.

A DIFFERENT VIEWPOINT: EFFECTIVE TAX RATES

It’s easy to make comparisons between municipalities based on their average tax bills. But if you take a look at a town’s “effective tax rate” – the amount of property tax paid relative to a home’s value – a much different story emerges.

Many of the wealthier towns in Essex County often pay a significantly lower effective tax rate, a trend that some local pundits have called attention to in the past. Read More: Tax Gap In Essex County; Many Wealthier Towns Pay Lower Rates

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The tax gap continued in Essex County during 2023, according to the latest state data.

Millburn, the highest-taxed town in the county (and one of its richest, according to U.S. Census data), also had its lowest effective tax rate. Millburn has a tax base of $9.87 billion, which is second only to Newark ($12.71 billion) – despite having only about 7 percent of the city’s population.

Here are how the towns and cities in Essex County stacked up last year, as measured by their calendar year tax rates per $100 valuation (highest to lowest):

  1. Irvington – 6.072
  2. West Orange – 4.598
  3. Belleville – 3.913
  4. Newark – 3.727
  5. Orange – 3.727
  6. South Orange – 3.637
  7. Maplewood – 3.615
  8. Montclair – 3.380
  9. Glen Ridge – 3.373
  10. Bloomfield – 3.267
  11. East Orange – 3.168
  12. Caldwell – 3.102
  13. Verona – 3.062
  14. West Caldwell – 2.701
  15. Nutley – 2.576
  16. Cedar Grove – 2.530
  17. Livingston – 2.371
  18. Roseland – 2.315
  19. North Caldwell – 2.216
  20. Essex Fells – 2.168
  21. Fairfield – 2.053
  22. Millburn – 1.956

Send local news tips and correction requests to eric.kiefer@patch.com. Learn more about advertising on Patch here. Find out how to post announcements or events to your local Patch site.



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The reasons why N.J. home sales plummeted 22% last year

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The reasons why N.J. home sales plummeted 22% last year


Low inventory and the highest interest rates in two decades caused home sales to decline 22% in New Jersey in 2023, according to data from New Jersey Realtors.

That follows a 20% decline in home sales in 2022, according to data from the Otteau Group.

Closed sales for all market segments totaled 84,305 in New Jersey in 2023, a 22% percent decline from 2022.

The townhouse and condo market segment saw the biggest decline in closed sales, dropping 24% in 2023 compared with 2022. The 19,175 closed sales in 2023 represented a 6,063 decline from 25,238 in closed sales in 2022, according to New Jersey Realtors.

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There were 23.2% fewer single family home closed sales in 2023, and the market of housing for people 55 and older had 6.2% fewer closed sales.

“It has nothing to do with people not buying,” said Gloria Monks, president of New Jersey Realtors and a broker associate with Compass in Princeton. “There’s no inventory. When we get good inventory, it does sell.”

New listings in New Jersey were down 20% in 2023 compared to 2022. There were 107,517 new listings in 2023, down from 134,643 in 2022. Of those new listings, the majority, 71,701, were single family homes, according to New Jersey Realtors’ data.

Unsold inventory in New Jersey fell to 10,500 homes on the market as of January, compared to 12,900 a year ago, according to data from the Otteau Group.

Homeowners don’t want to sell existing property they may have a mortgage on when rates for a new 30-year mortgages are now more than 7%, as many who purchased a property before mortgage rates increased have a note with an interest rate below 4%.

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“After rates start to move closer to 5.5%, or get below 5.5%, we’re going to see existing homeowners more willing to put their houses up for sale,” said Jeffrey Otteau, a real estate economist who heads the Otteau Group.

New Jersey should see an increase in the number of houses on the market by Memorial Day or the second quarter of 2024, he said, if interest rates fall, as expected.

But the 2024 market is off to a slow start. In Randolph, in Morris County, prior to 2020, inventory was about 130 homes for sale at this time of year. In the spring market, inventory would rise to about 160, according to Missy Iemmello, a broker sales associate and Weichert Realtors’ branch vice president, whose agents work in Morris, Sussex, Warren, Bergen and Essex counties.

There are currently 13 active listings in Randolph.

“This is the lowest I have seen in my career, since 2006,” Iemmello said. “I believe we are at the bottom and will start growing inventory, but I think it will be a slow uphill climb.”

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The decline in sales is having an impact on the real estate profession.

“There are a lot of agents making decisions about whether to keep their license active or go into a referral service,” said Beth Kimmick of ERA Central Realty in Cream Ridge. With a referral service, they can’t actively sell but they can refer clients to other agents who will then pay them a small commission.

“It’s expensive to have a license and if you’re not doing business, it can be the world’s most expensive hobby,” she said.

Are you an agent, buyer or seller who is active in this changing market? Do you have tips about New Jersey’s real estate market? Unusual listings? Let us know.

Thank you for relying on us to provide the local news you can trust. Please consider supporting NJ.com with a subscription.

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Allison Pries may be reached at apries@njadvancemedia.com.



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