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Scotch Plains and Fanwood Property Taxes Higher Than State Average, Among Highest in County

Scotch Plains also saw a higher percentage tax increase for 2012 than the state average, while Fanwood was under the average.


Homeowners in Scotch Plains and Fanwood are paying higher property taxes than the statewide average and some of the highest in the county, according to a statewide chart published by the Star-Ledger.

The average total Scotch Plains tax bill comes in at $$11,520.19, compared with the statewide average of $7,870.28, ranking it the 69 highest out of 566 municipalities, or in the top 12 percent. 

The average total Fanwood bill comes in slightly lower than Scotch Plains' at $10,436.55. Fanwood ranks 90 highest out of 566 municipalities, or in the top 15.9 percent.

While the statewide average property tax increase was 1.7 percent for 2012, the smallest bump in more than two decades, Scotch Plains residents saw a 2.4 percent tax increase for 2012, while Fanwood residents saw a increase under the state average at 1.2 percent. Across Union County, the average percent increase for 2012 was 2.1 percent. Mountainside had the highest percentage increase for 2012 (5.6 percent), while Winfield had the biggest decrease for 2012 (-0.8 percent).

Compared to the rest of Union County, both Scotch Plains and Fanwood had one of the highest overall taxbills in the county. Scotch Plains ranked 4 out of 21 for total highest tax bill in the county, while Fanwood ranked 6 of 21. Scotch Plains pays the third lowest municipal bill in the county, but the third higest school bill. Fanwood pays a slightly lower municipal bill than the county average, and also one of the highest school bills in the county.

Residents in Summit (1), Westfield (2) and New Providence (3) paid the highest average total tax bill in the county, while residents in Winfield (21), Kenilworth (20) and Plainfield (19) paid the lowest.

The Star-Ledger noted that property taxes statewide rose 2.4 percent in 2011, the first year Christie’s two percent cap was in effect. But the trend of lower increases could be reversed because of Hurricane Sandy, according to the report.

In Manasquan, which suffered some of the worst damage from Sandy, local officials said the cost of rebuilding might drive up tax rates by at least 20 percent, the report said. To top it off, the tax base shrank as properties were washed away, according to the report. Towns are allowed to exceed the two percent limit on property tax collections for emergencies such as Sandy.

TownAverage County BillAverage Municipal BillAverage School BillAverage Total BillRank of Total Bill in StatePercent Change from 2011 Clark
$1,942.70$2,474.34$4,792.82$9,209.86150 highest  of 5663.5% Garwood$1,710.53$3,077.43$3,961.33$8,749.30171 highest of 5664.3% County Average$1,828.06$2,954.38$4,732.66$9,515.092.1% Statewide Average
$1,425.45$2,324.66$4,120.16$7,870.281.7%

UNION COUNTY     

Average County Bill

Average Municipal Bill

Average School Bill

Average Total Bill

Rank of Total Bill in County

Percent Change from 2011

Berkeley Heights

$2,580.35

$2,050.60

$6,474.40

$11,105.36

5

0.7%

Clark

$1,942.70 $2,474.34 $4,792.82 $9,209.86 10

3.5%

Cranford

$2,060.72 $2,472.99 $5,369.98 $9,903.70 9 3.6% Elizabeth $1,231.09 $4,743.14 $1,871.93 $7,846.16 17 -0.5% Fanwood $1,937.83 $2,218.57 $6,280.15 $10,436.55 6 1.2% Garwood $1,710.53 $3,077.43 $3,961.33 $8,749.30 12 4.3% Hillside $1,167.12 $3,989.62 $3,513.51 $8,670.25 13 1.8% Kenilworth $1,520.31 $2,269.26 $3,548.28 $7,337.85 20 4.4% Linden $1,284.72 $2,621.57 $3,967.24 $7,873.53 15 1.7% Mountainside $2,677.69 $2,768.10 $4,743.20 $10,188.99 7 5.6% New Providence $2,560.99 $2,684.54 $7,066.03 $12,311.56 3 2.5% Plainfield $1,141.75 $4,579.09 $2,094.72 $7,815.57 19 -0.4% Rahway $1,303.43 $3,057.40 $3,465.96 $7,826.79 18 1.1% Roselle $1,042.55 $4,416.74 $3,597.64 $9,056.93 11 -0.6% Roselle Park $1,303.45 $2,815.30 $4,486.97 $8,605.73 14 1.5% Scotch Plains $2,248.72 $1,966.49 $7,304.99 $11,520.19 4 2.4% Springfield $1,876.85 $3,220.94 $4,910.17 $10,007.95 8 2.5% Summit $4,132.33 $3,643.99 $8,274.22 $16,050.53 1 3.4% Union $1,378.43 $2,878.21 $3,604.53 $7,861.16 16 3.3% Westfield $3,204.80 $2,657.55 $8,466.72 $14,329.07 2 3.1% Winfield $82.83 $1,436.10 $1,591.03 $3,109.97 21 -0.8% COUNTY AVERAGE $1,828.06 $2,954.38 $4,732.66 $9,515.09     –  2.1%

The data above, which divides property tax bills by municipal, county and public education costs, was compiled from numbers released by the state Department of Treasury and county boards of taxation.

For more information, please click here.

firedup49 January 16, 2013 at 07:20 PM
And everyone wants to be on board with Courage to Connect (Fred Lange & Gina Genovese) to consolidate Scotch Plains and Fanwood. Be careful what you wish for
Holden MaGroin January 16, 2013 at 09:55 PM
I'm Holden MaGroin and I'm confused. At first glance it would appear that Scotch Plains is doing better than Fanwood on the municipal level by $300. But that leaves out the poop tax. I would ask Herbie if he still has his sewer included in his tax but he's away on a cruise to no where. The Scotch Plains people appear to get $300 a year more services from the county, but I haven't figured that one out either. Maybe it's the new park. What's really confusing to me is how Scotch Plains is paying $1,000 more for the school kids. I would think that with a school system that is shared, the cost would be the same or close for the towns supporting them. I remember going to a meeting and being told that Fanwood pays about 25% of the budget and has about 25% of the students. That seems fair. But then it was explained that the taxes are based on the value of the towns, but the difference between $7,304 and $6,280 is 16%. Does that mean that as a proportion of wealth and taking away the size, that Scotch Plains is considered 16% more valuable than Fanwood? Who decides this?
bgporter January 17, 2013 at 02:53 PM
Hey, Holden -- long time no talk. It looks to me like the best explanation of the regional district apportionment formula is found here: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CDIQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.njleg.state.nj.us%2FPropertyTaxSession%2FOPI%2Fbg123.pdf&ei=pQ_4ULunFaPU0gHvhYCADA&usg=AFQjCNHRJ1HiLdg6viyWaLNYmm9VmLhSsg&sig2=-a8PQmdPvPuxO3oPBu2anw (full disclaimer -- found by 30 seconds of googling & less time than that skimming through the beginning, so it may be mostly scans of old "Nancy" cartoons with all of Aunt Fritzi's word balloons redacted. Caveat lector.)
bgporter January 17, 2013 at 02:54 PM
Bah. Stupid googlified link. http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/PropertyTaxSession/OPI/bg123.pdf
John Harvey January 18, 2013 at 01:58 AM
I think this makes sense based on the fact the Scotch Plains High School has a new wing. What, the new wing was built in 1970? Hey maybe this doesn't make sense!
Lenapee Tree January 21, 2013 at 11:17 AM
Dear account named ‘Holden MaGroin’, The ‘Holden Magroin’ Patch account recently announced that it is not actually one person, but a collection of employees using a shared email account. From now on would each ‘Holden MaGroin’ user please state who they are at the beginning of each post? The pretence of several Scotch Plains government employees acting as one user causes confusion to the Patch readers. The realization that I was duped by this trick was unsettling. It is also a bit scary to think this is where my tax dollars go. My thanks go to the person that figured out the ‘Holden MaGroin’ account was not one individual. That was good detective work. Have you tried using the time and date stamps of the ‘HM’ posting against public attendance records to determine who the posters are yet? I notice there are lags during one vacation period and most likely other less obvious details could be used. Thanks again.
Bo Vastine January 21, 2013 at 02:18 PM
I think that it is very important to point out that the totals and averages are comprised of three very different influences. They are the County portion, Municipal portion and the School portion of our taxes. If we dig deeper into these differences we see a very interesting truth unfold. As Scotch Plains goes, we are well above the average when we look just at County taxes...we rank 6th highest. We are also well above the average when we look just at School taxes...we rank 3rd highest. When we look at the Municipal portion of our taxes...Scotch Plains ranks 20th out of 21 towns...meaning we have the second lowest municipal taxes in the county. What does this tell us? The municipal government in Scotch Plains has been very prudent in controlling that portion of your taxes which we have control over. Our total cost skyrockets only when you add in the County and School taxes…which we do not have control over. It will be interesting to see how the 100% turn over in service providers will affect this picture for Scotch Plains going forward.
Holden MaGroin January 21, 2013 at 03:35 PM
I'm Holden MaGroin and I'm flattered. While at times there may be competing voices in my head, I am but one person. And as has been previously surmised and responded to, I am not employed by our town. But now one of the voices is worried that there may be confusion. Could you, Lenapee Tree, please show the link where my account has made that announcement? That would be unsettling to me. I've got to now comment to Bo.
Holden MaGroin January 21, 2013 at 04:29 PM
I'm Holden MaGroin and this is for Bo. Are we paying these new service providers more than their predecessors? Do you know if they are going to tell us you have to raise taxes? Can you share with us your concerns about how you think the picture is going to change with these new people? Herbie came back from his cruise and shared some things with me. He reminded me that this table of numbers are just the taxes and do not include the poop fee, the elimination of garbage collection from our services, the now fee-based junk day permits that used to be a service provided by the town and the SID fee imposed on our businesses. He also told me that there was a big loss of state funding to our schools a few years ago. He said it was about $3M and caused a larger % of the school budget to be paid by our taxes. He told me he can't find any reason for the county taxes being that high except that they are now going into the catering business. I would be cautious about your back-patting, you may dislocate your shoulder. I would think that if we looked at the lower municipal tax rate along with the services that have been reduced and the fees that have been instituted over the years, the picture changes from rosy to a different color.
Bo Vastine January 21, 2013 at 04:49 PM
HM, The answer to your first question is yet to be determined...however, the time to get up to speed on issues facing our town will have a cost associated with it. That's why I said it will be interesting to see the results. As far as as your friend back from the cruise...you might remind him that the sewer fee and fee based junk day is separate from property taxes in a large number of other towns in Union County...let's not try to make people reading this think that Scotch Plains is the only town. and...as far as back-patting...I will leave that to others including yourself. It was a simple observation taken from looking closer at the numbers printed in the Patch story. If you want to make more of it than that...that is your right.
Holden MaGroin January 21, 2013 at 05:31 PM
I'm Holden MaGroin and this is for Bo. Thank you for the prompt response. I would submit that the cost, as you claim, that will be associated with having new people in these positions (if there is indeed a cost) will be much smaller than the cost of having a connected personal injury attorney getting up to speed as a municipal attorney. In regards to other towns, I'm aware of almost half having reduced services or added the sewer fee due to the RVSA spending. But alas, you and I have travelled that road before. The back-patting comment is based on what appears to be a preening statement related to our municipal government being prudent in controlling taxes. Meanwhile, children get to sled in compost-like piles of leaves throughout the winter without having to search a golf course for a hill and night drivers get to play demolition derby with tree trunks the size of Volkswagons still on the curb 12 weeks after the storm. You did mention soon after the storm ended that Scotch Plains is 10 times the size of Fanwood, and you thought that was why things were managed better in Fanwood during the storm. Maybe if you seem to think we're too large to manage.....that is your right.
Bo Vastine January 21, 2013 at 06:12 PM
Really? You make my point perfectly...Township attorney is but one paid position servicing the Township. We have/or will soon replace every existing service provider to the Township. In total, that is approximately 10 paid entities being replaced by providers who do not have direct experience with Scotch Plains, and/or any circumstances which we might be facing. Time is money...let's see what it costs us. With regards to the leaves and limbs...perhaps a call or note to the New Mayor. I seem to recall that he was going to somehow expedite the cleanup process. Did it not happen?
Lenapee Tree January 21, 2013 at 09:09 PM
HM, I am hearing the words "told you to take a screen shot" from a family member. Is it possible for someone to have faked your name and deleted the posting?
Lenapee Tree January 21, 2013 at 10:06 PM
Holden, Here is a link to one of your confessions. I will not waste time finding the rest. While you were knowledgeable about the town and the posts were entertaining, I don't pay taxes to be entertained by people who should be performing a useful function. Goodbye. http://scotchplains.going.com/articles/where-the-scotch-plains-candidates-stand-the-special-improvement-district-sid#comments Holden MaGroin 12:26 pm on Saturday, October 27, 2012 I'm Holden MaGroin and this is for my self described life long republican who just switched to an independent. Yes, I am exposed. I have a shared email account that many people use and post as me. And I have been doing this for many years on the patch. .
Lenapee Tree January 21, 2013 at 10:19 PM
HI, Lenape Tree. This is not you. Note that the Patch software doesn't enforce any kind of uniqueness constraint on screen names, so it's trivial to spoof someone else's account and make them say anything you'd like them to. JUST LIKE I'M DOING RIGHT NOW.
Holden MaGroin January 21, 2013 at 11:58 PM
I'm Holden MaGroin and this is for BV. Yes, really. Due to hack political patronage we have had a personal injury attorney as our township attorney, we had multiple reappointments of our town representative to the RVSA who was supposed to represent our interests and instead we, and as you say other towns have had to institute fees to keep up with their profligate spending. But then again we did have someone in an important town position....I believe it was almost 20 years. Our emergency management coordinator. But the last mayor, with your support fired him on her way out the door. In regards to your shot at the new mayor, I have seen some progress over the past couple of weeks related to the leaves. Much more than the last 9 weeks of the previous leadership. But the election is over. Is it your aim to vote against all the proposals as you did with these appointments?
Holden MaGroin January 22, 2013 at 12:15 AM
I'm Holden MaGroin and this is for Lenapee Tree. Thank you for posting the link. However I do take issue with the fact you stopped my "confession" where you did. When I called up your link, which I hope others will do, there are a few more lines to that posting. It was in reply to someone who accused me of having more than one personality or being more than one person. I am no polygamist and Pat MaGroin would never tolerate that. I too would not like it if our town employees used their work time to prowl the Patch. If they do it's not as Holden MaGroin. I guess you could ask or demand from the town manager the time/date stamps of my postings and check the town computers for matches. You won't find any. I will give you credit for trying to link my quiet time to someones vacation. It actually was nothing more than I didn't find anything interesting enough to comment on.
Kevin Ward January 28, 2013 at 08:20 PM
I'm new here in town. I'm very impressed, I was not aware that our elected officials took care of the leaf collecting. Where do they find the time ? I rake my leaves every fall and I must say it is hard work. I think it's great and it will keep them in good shape too !

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