Rahway’s overall assessed value is about 7 percent off since the recession with assessed values of apartments and industrial properties heading in opposite directions while commercial assessments are almost back to pre-recession levels.
Last month, we looked at changes in Rahway’s assessment from 2015 to 2016 and specifically within certain categories. This time I took a longer view, examining assessment data from 2005 to 2016, available within the annual Union County Abstract of Ratables. I compiled some of the major categories for each year into a spreadsheet that you can access here.
The city’s overall assessed value reached a recent low of $1.445 billion in 2015. While it was up to $1.453 billion last year, that’s still about 7 percent lower since a high of $1.556 billion in 2008, and 2.5 percent off the 2005 total.
The average home in Rahway is assessed at $133,000. There were 10,858 households as of the last Census (2010) and 11,300 “housing units,” having grown to 12,000, according to the most recent estimated update.
Successful tax appeals played a role over the years, especially in the years after the recession, when assessments did not keep up with declining market values. In addition to record numbers of residential appeals in 2012, there have been multi-year commercial tax appeals that have reduced assessments significantly. The city also settled with Merck in 2011 over a tax appeal covering 2010-2012.
Last year’s 39-percent jump in Class 4C Apartment assessments was the largest in recent memory and probably the largest ever, likely peaking at an all-time high of $72.261 million. That’s almost double what the overall apartment assessment was in 2005 at $38 million. Most of that jump was due to the 159-unit Park Square development. The two-building complex on Main and Irving streets had its Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) agreement expire and the full assessment of about $19 million took effect.
Apartment assessments account for almost 5 percent of the overall assessment, up from 3.6 percent the previous year. Over the past decade, it’s usually fluctuated around 2 to 3 percent.
Class 4A Commercial is the only other category besides Apartments that has all but returned to pre-recession levels last year, at $132.439 million compared with $132.965 million in 2008, which was the peak between 2005 and 2016.
Commercial assessments accounted for more than 9 percent of overall assessed value last year, after fluctuating between 8.37 percent and 8.88 percent since 2005.
Class 4B Industrial assessments are down 38 percent since 2008, about $100 million off the $373 million high in 2009, clocking in at $272 million last year. The biggest swing within Industrial assessments occurred between 2010 and 2011, dropping from a recent high of $373.484 million to $309.425 million, or almost 21 percent.
In 2005, Industrial assessments accounted for more than a quarter of the total assessed value and dipped below 20 percent by 2012. Last year, Industrial accounted for less than 19 percent.
Class 2 Residential was among a number of categories that reached a recent high in 2008, at $994 million. Last year’s $967 million is off by less than 3 percent of the 2008 figure and actually up 3 percent over the low of $935 million in 2005.
Residential historically has accounted for the largest percentage of the city’s overall assessed value, and that percentage has grown in the past decade. Residential comprised almost 63 percent of overall assessments in 2005, peaking at 67 percent in 2012.
This is just a look at Rahway’s data from 2005 to 2016. Tax appeals were prevalent throughout the state following the recession, not just in Rahway. Another interesting angle on these numbers would be to look at how Rahway’s assessed values compared with fluctuations of other towns and whether any similar trends appeared.