Rumson Garden Club spreads ‘holly day’ cheer

 Christmas Greens co-chair Liz Dusko, left to right, Rumson Garden Club President Diane Guidone and Christmas Greens co-chair Angela Benin proudly display some of the wreaths donated to local non-profits this year.  PHOTO COURTESY OF RUMSON GARDEN CLUB Christmas Greens co-chair Liz Dusko, left to right, Rumson Garden Club President Diane Guidone and Christmas Greens co-chair Angela Benin proudly display some of the wreaths donated to local non-profits this year. PHOTO COURTESY OF RUMSON GARDEN CLUB RUMSON — For more than 80 years, the Rumson Garden Club (RGC) has held its annual Christmas Green Workshop to spread holiday cheer and help local not-for-profits deck their halls.

Since its inception in 1930, the workshop’s boughs of holly, boxwood, magnolia, pine and spruce are clipped from members’ properties and brought to Bingham Hall. There, members gather to create evergreen centerpieces, embellish wreaths and stuff candy into bags to herald the start of the holiday season.

The wreaths, table pieces and candy bags are ferried to local not-for-profits. This year, the organizations included Parker Family Clinic, Love Inc., Monmouth Historical Society, John Montgomery House, History House, King James Care Center, Meridian Health Care Center, Rumson Borough Hall, Oceanic Public Library, Lunch Break, St. Marks Keansburg Center for Community Renewal and the Boys & Girls Clubs in Asbury Park and Red Bank.

“It’s my favorite RGC activity,” said Nancy Dickson, a member of 50 years, about the annual workshop held the first Saturday of every December. “It’s so worthwhile and a wonderful way for members to get together and give back to the community. It’s a great feeling to give to others.”

In addition, this year the Christmas Greens volunteers created 100 small arrangements for the meal trays for Red Bank Area Meals on Wheels clients.

“It’s a joy to create just a little holiday cheer for those who are unable to leave their homes during the season,” said coordinator Jan Glass.

“There is so much creativity, talent, camaraderie and good spirits to go around,” said Angela Bennink, who co-chairs the event with Liz Dusko. “It’s great fun to be a part of Christmas Green Workshop and know that everything you do will bring a smile to someone’s face.”

For more information, visit wwww.rumsongardenclub.org.

Former mayor brings brewery to Tinton Falls

By KENNY WALTER
Staff Writer

TINTON FALLS — Thirsty beer drinkers may soon be able to enjoy a stout, lager and other craft beer offerings in the borough.

Former mayor Michael Skudera, along with Tinton Falls resident Pete Artherholt and Red Bank resident Chris Hanigan, is set to open Jughandle Brewing Company this spring.

“Peter and Chris have made some of the best craft beer that I have ever tasted,” Skudera said. “We got similar reactions from others who have tried their beer as well, and this encouraged us to create Jughandle Brewing Company.

“We are passionate about creating quality craft beer for our customers to enjoy. We are excited to be Tinton Falls’ first craft brewery and are looking forward to opening next spring.”

The trio will operate a 3,000-square-foot brewery in the Tinton Falls Centre Plaza at 4057 Asbury Ave.

Skudera said the group considered several different locations before finally settling on Tinton Falls.

“We figured that was a good location with a lot of high traffic,” he said.

Artherholt, a former chemist with 15 years of brewing experience, said in a press release that the brewery will begin with a few offerings and will quickly expand.

“We will offer six craft beers on tap and plan on expanding to 14,” he said. “Having a strong science background will help drive consistency and quality control in the craft beers that we sell.”

Skudera said some of the initial offerings would include a stout, IPA, brown ale and hefeweizen.

“We are trying to have a wide variety to appeal to different tastes,” he said. “Not everybody has the same taste, so we are trying to have a very inclusive, very diverse menu of craft beer.”

Hanigan said the beer would include local produce.

“Our craft beers will be made using natural and high quality ingredients, and we are looking to use local products when in season,” he said.

The Tinton Falls brewery joins a growing list of breweries that have opened in recent years along the Jersey Shore. These include Beach Haus Brewery in Belmar, Belford Brewing in Middletown, Carton Brewing in Atlantic Highlands, Kane Brewing Company in Ocean Township and Little Dog Brewing in Neptune City.

“Around 2012 … they changed the law to allow breweries to be built in New Jersey,” Skudera said. “Before then it was very difficult.

“There’s been a lot of new breweries come on the scene, but still per capita we are number 48. We are getting better, but we are still nowhere near New York or Pennsylvania. There is still a lot of room for growth.”

Skudera said allowing more breweries will create more jobs, allow more commerce and generate more sales tax revenues, which benefit the local economy.

However, under state law, Skudera said Jughandle would not be permitted to serve food on site without obtaining a full liquor license at a significantly increased cost.

Under its current license, Jughandle will be able to sell beer on-site, as well as distribute beer to local bars and liquor stores.

Free tours of the brewery will also be offered.

“We’ll have free tours, people will be able to learn about the brewing process,” Skudera said.

Another component of the brewery might be a partnership with other local businesses.

“We’ve definitely talked about this, we do plan on partnering with a bunch of local organizations,” Skudera said. “We want to have products … in season, whether it is honey or whatever we are looking at.”

Skudera also said the Jughandle name is a play on the familiar traffic pattern often ridiculed in other states.

“It is kind of unique, the Jersey jughandle, but also the jug when you go to fill your growler up,” he said. “So it has a double meaning and it is a nice, unique name for a unique beer.”

Youths may enter poster contest

New Jersey’s soil conservation districts are now accepting entries in a poster contest designed to raise awareness of natural resources and related issues among young people. The theme for this year’s poster is “We All Need Trees,” according to a press release.

Students may compete in the following categories: Grades 2-3, Grades 4-6, Grades 7-9 and Grades 10-12. The winner in each category will receive $200. The secondplace finisher in each category will receive $100 and the third-place finisher in each category will receive $50.

The winners will be entered in the National Association of Conservation Districts poster contest.

The competition is sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, New Jersey Association of Conservation Districts and the state’s 15 soil conservation districts, which work to conserve and manage soil and water resources in the state, according to the press release.

To find the local soil conservation district, go to www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/ anr/nrc/conservdistricts.html. All entries must be submitted through the local district.

For more information and the entry form, visit www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/ anr/pdf/conservationpostercontest.pdf

Cancer care center rising in Middletown

By KAYLA J. MARSH
Staff Writer

Residents of Monmouth County will soon have easier access to cutting-edge cancer care, treatments and medicines when Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Center opens a new 304,000-square-foot outpatient treatment facility in Middletown in December 2016.

“Construction at the site is currently underway,” said Richard Barakat, deputy physician-in-chief for MSK Regional Care Network and Cancer Alliance. “All the mechanical equipment is in place, the duct work and utilities have been installed, more lighting is being put in for patients … and now we are really focusing on the redesign of the interior space.”

MSK Monmouth will be situated on a 40-acre property at 480 Red Hill Road off Garden State Parkway exit 114.

The Red Hill Road property was home to a three-story, 285,000-square-foot office building last occupied by Lucent Technologies a decade ago.

“What we did was looked at the areas where a significant number of our patients come from,” Barakat said. “This is an area where approximately seven percent of our patients travel to the city from, and this building was available, was large, could be fitted out very well for medical purposes [and] was in a fantastic location being right off the Garden State Parkway.”

When doors open in December, 2016, patients from Monmouth, Middlesex and Ocean counties and other surrounding communities with different cancers such as lymphoma, breast, lung, colon and gynecological cancers, will have access to the most advanced care under one roof.

MSK physicians and nurses will provide services ranging from chemotherapy, radiation oncology, diagnostic and interventional radiology, ambulatory surgery and endoscopy, social work, nutrition and genetics counseling and other support and survivorship services.

“The unique thing is that this is the first site we will be performing outpatient surgery,” Barakat said. “Surgical consultations can be done here, and we will have the tools and the resources to perform minor operations here.”

Barakat said the advantage of having a centrally located site like this is that patients who might have undergone major surgery at the center’s city location may need further treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy, which can make you sick and tired.

He said the central location is making it more convenient for patients and puts less of a strain on their bodies, and on family members.

“The incidence of cancer in and around Monmouth County is expected to increase by 17 percent over the next 10 years,” he said. “This is due in part to population growth and the success of screening programs at detecting new cancers, as well as to the rising median age of the population.”

Barakat said that by MSK Monmouth employing more than 800 clinical trials, new techniques and treatments could be found to combat cancers.

“At MSK we are constantly working to expand the clinical trials to increase the spectrum of studies we’ve gone through and to give us the best outcome and make novel treatments available to our patients,” he said.

The building that will house the center — which was approved by the Middletown Township Planning Board in January 2013 — is currently undergoing renovations to also accommodate more than 120,000 square feet of clinical space, according to Barakat.

Extra room will be used to also create a 50,000-square-foot data center, which will house research, health records and other digital information under one roof.

“This is about doing what’s best for the patients and seeing how to make it more convenient for them, and we look forward to bringing the care to them, making it more local and more patient-friendly,” Barakat said.

Red Bank extends parking moratorium into New Year

By MICHAEL NUNES
Staff Writer

RED BANK — Business owners applauded the extension of the borough’s parking moratorium, with some calling for an even greater extension.

“The important thing is we have to tell people that Red Bank is still open for business,” said Mayor Pasquale Menna as the Borough Council moved to extend the moratorium for another 90 days.

The moratorium, which has been in effect in the borough since 2010, will continue to excuse business owners from paying a fee for having an insufficient number of parking spaces.

According to RiverCenter Executive Director James Scavone, when a business opens in Red Bank, the borough decides how much parking it needs to provide. Businesses lacking sufficient spaces would be required to pay a fee. Under the policy, the fee is waived.

The move was applauded by Scavone, executive director of Red Bank River- Center, during public comments.

“While we very much appreciate the 90-day extension, I would just like to say that I hope you all realize the wonderful impact the moratorium has had on the downtown. I would say if there was one thing we had to single out that really helped the revitalization of Red Bank and really helped moved us forward, I would say it really has been the moratorium,” he said.

RiverCenter is a nonprofit established in 1991 to promote and recruit businesses in the borough as well as hold events.

“We are the envy of so many municipalities in New Jersey because of what we have been able to do,” Scavone continued.

Scavone also asked to council to reconsider the time frame.

“We don’t have huge developers like other municipalities have, we just have a group of property owners, so it’s things like the moratorium that really give us our advantage or our edge,” he said.

Scavone thanked Councilman Michael DuPont, who called for a one-year extension of the moratorium.

“It’s been hugely positive for the town. It’s allowed development to really come into Red Bank. … When a small business is opening, most often they are very strapped for cash, there’s very little room for fees. They are usually investing their lives into this business,” said Scavone.

“By putting a moratorium on these parking fees, which can be exorbitant, it really has allowed smaller business to develop in Red Bank,” he said, stating that fees could run as high as $100,000.

According to Scavone, after the 2008 financial crash, the moratorium helped provide relief for struggling business owners as well as bring businesses into downtown.

“Following the economic crisis, in 2011 and 2012 we really saw a resurgence in the revitalization of downtown. It’s really been policies like the moratorium that has let that happen,” he said.

Extending the policy will fall to the new council, which will see two new faces on the dais.

The new members of the council will be Michael Whelan and Mark Taylor, who replace three-term councilman DuPont and Sharon Lee, who was appointed earlier this year to fill a vacant council seat.

Contact Michael Nunes at mnunes@gmnews.com.

Nurse from Little Silver recognized by March of Dimes

LITTLE SILVER — The March of Dimes New Jersey chapter honored Little Silver resident Rebecca Norton from CentraState Healthcare System in Freehold as the 2015 March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Award in the Surgical Services category.

Through Nurse of the Year Awards, the March of Dimes recognizes nurses who demonstrate exceptional patient care, compassion, and service. Whether serving as a health care provider, educator, researcher, or chapter volunteer/advisor, these nurses have played a critical role in improving the health of New Jersey’s mothers and babies.

Norton is a registered nurse in the operating room at CentraState Healthcare System. She was part of starting a post-operative timeout program that tracks specimens, wound class, diagnosis, plus room and equipment issues; has achieved large improvements in her unit of the goal to reduce immediate use steam sterilization; and partnered with a surgeon to rewrite the hospital’s website on robotic surgery, according to a statement prepared by the March of Dimes.

She developed and is currently conducting a study comparing postoperative pain levels between patients undergoing robotic single site gallbladder removal versus traditional laparoscopic gallbladder removal.

“We could not do the work of the March of Dimes without the passion and commitment of our nurses. This is our opportunity to show them how special they truly are,” said Allie Hall, Central Division executive director for the New Jersey chapter of the March of Dimes.

New Jersey award recipients were announced at a special awards gala on Nov. 18 at the Pines Manor in Edison.

More than 196 nurses were nominated in 19 different award categories. At the event there were 115 finalists who represented 48 hospitals and healthcare facilities.

The event raised over $90,000 to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

Grocery stores expand services

By KAYLA J. MARSH
Staff Writer

 Grocery stores are offering more than food shopping such as this gingerbread cookie decorating class held at Whole Foods Market in Marlboro on Dec. 17.  STAFF PHOTGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR Grocery stores are offering more than food shopping such as this gingerbread cookie decorating class held at Whole Foods Market in Marlboro on Dec. 17. STAFF PHOTGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR Area grocery stores are slowly changing the way they cater to their customers by providing more services and programs to help make a regular trip to the supermarket a day filled with fun, learning and adventure.

From nutritional assistance, children’s classes and even free home delivery services, supermarkets have become hotspots of activities and resources, showing it is not just about the shopping, but about community togetherness. “I feel like we are definitely providing something more than just shopping,” said Laura Fette, marketing team leader at Whole Foods Market in Marlboro.

“I feel like the store has been a destination for events, whether kid- or adult-focused, and we are even finding people within the community, partnering with them and helping them to build their own businesses, and I think that has been what has worked really well here — finding what our community needs and really catering to it.”

 Children of all ages watch a gingerbread cookie demonstration by Dani B. Fiori at Whole Foods Market in Marlboro on Dec. 17.  STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR Children of all ages watch a gingerbread cookie demonstration by Dani B. Fiori at Whole Foods Market in Marlboro on Dec. 17. STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR According to Fette, Whole Foods in Marlboro offers some unique partnerships and classes for its clientele, such as with Heirloom Kitchen in Old Bridge for cooking classes and Macaroni Kids of Western Monmouth County, where children get to make their own pizza and macaroni necklaces.

“Finding these local experts who are really trying to build their businesses as well, and collaborating together to bring programming inside the store, people see we are beyond a shopping destination,” Fette said. “We’re offering the full scope of things.”

Fette also said the store offers a You & Me Toddler Program several times a month.

“Each Whole Foods Market is different, and I really feel like that we cater to our community … we’re becoming a part of people’s routine beyond just shopping,” she said.

Aside from classes, Michael Sinatra, public relations and public affairs director at Whole Foods Market’s Northeast Region, said the supermarket chain also offers additional services such as catering and takes pride in giving back to local communities.

“A lot of people enjoy taking advantage of our programming, such as our special ordering and catering services and our special menus,” he said.

At Whole Foods Market, customers can make shopping quick and easy by reserving and ordering meals, entrees, and party must-haves online and then picking them up at the store.

“We definitely see a higher volume of orders this time of year, but customers are aware and use this service at various times of the year,” Sinatra said.

The supermarket chain also participates in community giving days or what they refer to as “5% Days.”

“Each store is always donating food to area food banks and shelters,” Sinatra said. “Then several times a year, we hold community giving days where five percent of that day’s net sales are donated to a local area charity or educational organization.”

The Whole Foods Market in Marlboro will also join the Manalapan and Marlboro municipalities for holiday tree lighting events, providing baked goods, hot chocolate and company.

“I feel like we do a lot in the community,” Fette said. “People are coming here for things, but we’re also coming to them as well … and I think that makes a big difference too.”

Valerie Fox, media relations coordinator at Wegmans Food Markets, said providing services such as catering and a free public app is about making customers’ lives and shopping experience as simple as possible.

Wegmans’ aim is always to help mealtimes for families be as great and easy as possible,” she said.

“Our services help save customers time … but I think the number one thing that separates us are our people and customer service representatives who provide an added convenience.”

One service Fox said Wegmans provides is a free downloadable app that makes going to the supermarket less of a hassle.

“The Wegmans app is a very useful tool,” she said. “Customers can create their shopping list right there, and it’ll sort everything by aisle, and as you add items to your list, it will automatically estimate the total so you can manage your budget.”

On the app, customers can also browse through hundreds of recipes and add ingredients to their shopping list with just one touch and can even watch easy how-to videos to make meals easier.

“We also offer three ways for customers to enjoy our catering services, and that is either by going online, ordering by phone or by coming into your local Wegmans store,” Fox said.

From simple cheese and deli platters to cocktail party menus, complete holiday dinners and even delicious dessert trays, catering experts and chefs help with cooking and planning so families can have a memorable gathering.

“Many families have told us that they just don’t have time to do all the prep work themselves, so while this is not a full catering service with people coming to your home to serve, it provides our customers a service where they can order all their party-planning needs in one place.”

At ShopRite, a growing service is the supermarket’s ShopRite From Home program, which allows customers to save time and energy by ordering their groceries from the convenience of their own residence.

“The majority of ShopRite stores offer the ShopRite From Home service, which allows customers to shop online and pick up groceries at the store or have those groceries delivered right to their doorstep,” said Karen O’Shea, spokeswoman for Wakefern Food Corp.

Whether you are a busy parent, are injured or can’t make it to the store for some other reason, the ShopRite From Home service is an effortless way to get all the groceries you need with the click of a button.

“The ShopRite Mobile App and ShopRite From Home service allow customers to place orders electronically, and those grocery orders are then shopped in store by personal, trained shoppers,” O’Shea said. “Customers can tell our shoppers how they like their produce picked or cold cuts sliced. Our shoppers will also call customers at home if we are out of a certain item.

“Service is key, and it’s the reason our ShopRite From Home service continues to grow each year.”

Heather Casey of Edison said that, with being a mom of four sons and she and her husband both working full time, ShopRite from Home allows her to order her groceries on her time and schedule the deliveries for when it is most convenient.

“With four kids and both my husband and I working full time, every second counts,” Casey said. “We started using ShopRite from Home when my youngest son was born and food shopping became an added challenge.

“It is so helpful because we can shop from our phones or computer early in the morning or late in the evening when the kids are asleep and schedule pickups [or] deliveries around our work/family schedules. I rarely see the inside of the store any more because this service is so helpful!”

The ShopRite Pharmacy App makes getting prescriptions easier for customers.

“The ShopRite Pharmacy App makes managing prescriptions simple by allowing customers to refill prescriptions and transfer prescriptions right to their local ShopRite,” O’Shea said.

Diana Fransis, retail dietitian program supervisor at Wakefern Food Corp., works closely with more than 120 registered dietitians across 130 stores, training them to work with customers and educating them on making healthier choices while food shopping, as well as carrying out these choices by preparing healthy, well-balanced meals.

“Our registered dietitians will sit down with customers in a free one-on-one consultation, talk about their needs and goals, find out what they are looking for, dive into a diet plan and will even walk around the store with customers showing them where the food that is best for them is,” Fransis said.

ShopRite’s Culinary Workshops is a hands-on cooking class program taught by professionals who share their skills and knowledge, helping customers acquire limitless meal possibilities that include delicious, healthy ingredients.

“They’re cooking full meals with appetizers, entrees, desserts, and we even have a kids cooking class that teaches them how to make a very easy meal.”

According to Fransis, part of the supermarket’s Health and Wellness program includes the Dietitian’s Selection recipe program, a collection of recipes featuring healthy ingredients and essential nutrients while limiting the amount of fats, cholesterol and sodium.

“People are becoming much more aware about healthy eating and getting proper nutrition, and there is so much that our registered dietitians and chefs offer and can help with,” Fransis said. “All our services are free.”

Arlene Putterman, manager of public and community relations at Stop & Shop’s New York Metro Division, said getting prepared for the holidays or other festive occasions is easy as customers can order party platters, desserts, cakes and other arrangements online for in-store pickup and can order flowers.

“Stop & Shop provides fully prepared holiday dinners,” she said. “All the fixings without the prep work.”

Putterman said the supermarket’s Peapod service also makes delivering groceries to your home or business easy.

Peapod online home delivery service strives to deliver convenience and value,” she said. “Customers can order online or on Peapod’s free mobile app for grocery home delivery or car-side service at one of our many pickup locations.”

A Christmas Carol

TOP PICK

 PHOTO COURTESY OF PLAYHOUSE 22 PHOTO COURTESY OF PLAYHOUSE 22 Playhouse 22 presents its 20th annual production of Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol” 8 p.m. Fridays, 4 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, through Dec. 20 at the East Brunswick Community Arts Center, 721 Cranbury Road.

Fred Dennehy returns as Ebenezer Scrooge. The rest of the cast includes Peter Reimann as the Ghost of Jacob Marley, Jacqueline Master as the Spirit of Christmas Past, Christopher Rowland as the Spirit of Christmas Present and Samuel Moffett as Tiny Tim. The production is adapted and directed by Tony Adase.

All tickets cost $15 and are available online at Playhouse22.org, by calling the box office at 732-254-3939, or at the box office window.

A dessert reception for current and former cast and crew members is set for 6 p.m. Dec. 19 at the theater. For more information on the event, email info@playhouse22.org.

Photo

 FRANK GALIPO FRANK GALIPO Kathleen Bayer (left), T.J. Foderaro and Sammie, a four-month-old Yellow Lab, play on the beach at Victory Park in Rumson on a warm Sunday, Dec. 13.

Property tax appeals may be costly

By KENNY WALTER
Staff Writer

Every year, property owners file tax appeals in droves in the hopes of lowering their assessed value and paying less in property taxes.

However, doing so can be an expensive proposition, as many are compelled to hire an attorney and an appraisal company with no guarantee of victory.

Patrick De Luca, a long-time Long Branch resident, filed an unsuccessful tax appeal for his Ocean Avenue home in 2009 and plans to do so again in 2016. “I went through a lawyer, and at the time I had no problem,” De Luca said. “This year I was approached again [by an attorney] and I am going to do the process again.

“I recently received my new card and I’m at $1.1 million [assessed value] from $954,000. I spoke to my lawyer, and we just have to do it by January 15.”

De Luca, like many property owners, said prior to filing the 2009 appeal he did not know much about the tax appeal process.

According to the Middlesex County Tax Board, in order for an application to be acceptable, the property owner must provide between three and five comparable sales in the municipality, and all taxes and municipal charges must be current.

Franklin Colon, tax assessor for East Brunswick, said he often guides taxpayers through the process by providing them with data to help determine whether or not they were assessed correctly.

“A lot of taxpayers come in and, once we give them the books, a lot of them know where they should be,” Colon said. “Really what you are looking for is comparable sales, and that is the basis.

“You can come in and take a look at the data. Come in, talk to the tax assessor and see if you are assessed correctly.”

Colon also said the tax assessors are afforded a 15-percent leeway in either direction on an assessment, meaning a successful appeal must show that the assessment was incorrect by more than 15 percent of the value.

However, even when an application is accepted, tax appeal attorney Michael Mirne, of Ocean Township, said the odds favor the municipality.

“It is not a very difficult process to file, but winning a tax appeal very often requires an appraisal, and the town is afforded the presumption of correctness,” Mirne said. “The assessor does not need to prove his case; it’s the taxpayer needs to be the one to prove the assessment is wrong.

“And very often it is the difference between knowing the tax assessment is wrong and being able to prove it.”

According to Mirne, most property owners do not understand how the tax appeal process works, often comparing assessments to prior years or to neighbors’ assessments, which he said was irrelevant.

“The only thing that matters is whether their assessment exceeds the current value of their property,” he said. “People have a lot of misconceptions about tax appeals, and I have to spend a lot of time explaining these things.

“Out of the people who call me — bear in mind the only people who call me up are all people who feel that they are wrongly assessed — only about one of every seven have a case.”

The process for filing tax appeals has improved in recent years, as Monmouth is one of four counties that allow property owners to file tax appeals online.

Matthew Clark, Monmouth County tax administrator, said switching to an electronic system has benefited both the county and property owners.

“For us it has increased accuracy and it is a very transparent and green process,” Clark said, adding that under the manual system at least three copies of the appeal would need to be made.

Clark said along with being able to file appeals online, taxpayers can also view public records for assessments online, which will allow for more information when making a decision.

“We don’t want anyone filing an appeal unnecessarily because they don’t understand the tax impact or they don’t understand the town went through a reassessment or revaluation,” he said. “They want to see, ‘I wasn’t singled out; I wasn’t the only one who went up $10,000; everyone on my street did.’”

Clark said the aim of property assessment is to create assessments as close to equal of market values as possible.

“Everything that the tax board is doing is creating a fair mechanism for the distribution of the levy,” he said. “And if we can get the individual assessments correct out of the gate, then all the situations that follow like appeals should be lessened to a great degree.”

According to Clark, in 2015 6,063 property owners in Monmouth County filed tax appeals, which is 2.4 percent of the overall properties, and 62 percent were successful.

Property owners assessed at more than $1 million also have the option to file their appeal directly with the New Jersey Tax Board. However, Mirne said the state is currently backlogged with about 60,000 appeals waiting to be heard.

Mirne also said filing an appeal could be an expensive proposition as an appraisal report could cost at least $600 for a residential property and more than $1,000 for a commercial property.

“You might not have a lot of sales of similar houses, so you might have to go by an appraisal report, and an appraisal report is not a cheap thing by any means,” Mirne said.

Mirne also said there are some cases in which a property may be over-assessed but not enough to warrant a tax appeal.

“There is a lot of people who call me every day and tell me they are over-assessed, and I say ‘you might have a case but I’m not going to file because it is just too small for us to get involved in,’” he said. “We need to really be able to save the taxpayer at least $60,000 off their assessment for it to make sense for our firm to take the case.

“If you do need an appraiser, you better make sure you’ll be going to come out saving money because you might end up losing money by the time you pay the appraiser.”

However, Clark said because of the uncertainty of property taxes from year to year the most important thing the property owner should weigh is whether or not the assessment is correct.

“The difficulty about that entire discussion is that you are only estimating what the future tax bill will be, and the system is actually set up where you are not supposed to be weighing what the actual tax impact would be,” he said.

“As a tax administrator I am very careful not to speak on a tax impact because all that we can do is only speak to the assessment and its accuracy.”

According to Clark, there are no patterns as to whether a property owner on the high end or low end of the market is more likely to file an appeal.

“I think it is across the spectrum and town-dependent,” he said.

Currently, municipalities in Monmouth and Middlesex counties are under different systems in assessing properties.

Since 2012 Monmouth County has been assessing properties under the Real Property Assessment Demonstration Program.

Under the program, costly town-wide revaluations, which are normally carried out every 10 years, are replaced with an annual inspection of 20 percent of properties and a town-wide readjustment based on sales data.

In Middlesex County, municipalities only conduct revaluations about every 10 years.

Wayne Hamilton, business administrator for Monroe Township, said approximately 1,000 property owners filed appeals per year from 2010 and 2014 before Monroe conducted a township-wide revaluation, which cost the township about $1.5 million. The revaluation was conducted in 2013 and took effect in 2014 in Monroe.

“We went through a very trying period where we had thousands of tax appeals prior to the revaluation,” he said. “Most of those were successful appeals, and since we did the revaluation, the number of appeals has gone way down.

“You are probably looking at, in terms of loss of revenue to the municipality, about $15.5 million as a result of those successful tax appeals.”

Colon said the number of appeals filed year to year is directly related to the condition of the housing market.

“Early 2000’s there weren’t many tax appeals at all because the market was stable,” he said. “Then we had the increase in the market and then the market had tanked in 2008, and that generated the tax appeals.”

Another difference between Monmouth and Middlesex counties is the deadline for when an appeal must be filed. Currently taxpayers in Monmouth County must file by Jan. 15 in accordance with the new program and taxpayers in Middlesex County must file by April 1.

In Monmouth County property owners may file tax appeals online at https://secure.njappealonline.com/prodappeals/login.aspx.

Middlesex County taxpayers may download the application at http://www.co.middlesex.nj.us/Government/Departments/Finance/Pages/Tax-A… and must physically submit the application to the Middlesex County Board of Taxation at the county administration building in New Brunswick.