“Having seen Superstorm Sandy damage and already facing the expensive tasks of raising their homes to required heights, homeowners would then be reassessed, in what officials said is an unfair situation that amounts to penalizing them for complying with standards.
“Sandy is the gift that keeps on giving,” said Berkeley Township Mayor Carmen Amato, hoping the state will craft legislation to offer a tax abatement to those impacted.
The space created underneath a home after a home is raised to new flood elevation heights is seen as a taxable property value and becomes part of a new tax assessment for the homeowner, Amato said. The homeowner faces additional value assessment if they’ve enclosed this area with a cement foundation for example.
“They will be taxed on this, but they didn’t ask for this,” Amato said.
He and the Berkeley Council are hoping to see a lessened impact on these homeowners, similar to legislation enacted in New York, where this added property value wouldn’t take hold until five more years down the line.
“At the same time Sandy hit us, FEMA came out with their new flood maps and then after going through the information we have several homeowners who are forced to raise their home because of the new flood maps. Essentially if they don’t raise their home, they can get stuck with outrageous flood insurance bills,” said Amato. “So here is FEMA making these homeowners raise their homes, so they have to pay, but what it’s doing is now that their home is being raised its creating additional taxable space.”
The Berkeley mayor said he sought the advice of township department heads but also the taxpayers’ association to try and figure out what, if anything, could be done.
“I had a long conversation with our tax attorney and with our assessor and with the Berkeley Township Taxpayer Association, and found that other states in order to address this do a short-term abatement, so that when these homes are raised because of new flood elevations that the current assessment on the home will stay and last for about five years,” Amato said.
However, “right now in New Jersey there is no legislative mechanism to do this,” he added.”