A look at total assessment, 2015-16

Rahway’s total taxable value nudged up slightly last year, highlighted by a sharp increase in apartment assessments thanks to a new building on the tax rolls, and a dip among industrial property due to lower assessments on Merck properties.

The 2016 Union County Abstract of Ratables provides data on each town’s taxable values, broken down by category and various taxing entities (municipal, county, school, special improvement district, open space, etc.)

Most property class assessments were up last year as compared to 2015 (you can take a closer look in this spreadsheet):

  • Class 4C Apartment, +39 percent, $51.82 million to $72.28 million
  • Class 4A Commercial, +3.15 percent, $128.39 million to $132.43 million
  • Class 2 Residential, +0.21 percent, $965.37 million to $967.40 million
  • Total Class 4, +3.96 percent, from $458.67 million to $476.86 million
  • Class 4B Industrial, (-5.65) percent, $288.45 million to $272.16 million
  • Class 1 Vacant, (-17.49) percent, $11.69 million to $9.64 million.

Last year, the net taxable value for Rahway was $1.457 billion, up 0.57 percent from $1.449 billion.

Despite the jump in Apartment, it still only accounts for 5 percent of the city’s assessed value, the lowest among four main categories, and residential accounts for two-thirds:

  • 66.77 percent, Class 2 Residential, $967.400 million
  • 18.72 percent, Class 4B Industrial, $272.162 million
  • 9.11 percent, Class 4A Commercial, $132.439 million
  • 4.97 percent, Class 4C Apartment, $72.261 million

452ba-merckTax assessments for Merck’s Class 4B-Industrial properties dropped more than 7 percent, or about $16 million, when you compare the affected property records from 2016 and 2015. That accounts for nearly the entire $16.3 million decline within the industrial category. Merck’s three main properties saw overall assessments drop from $220 million to $204 million, with a property tax bill of about $13 million last year. (That doesn’t include more than a dozen other properties owned by Merck but classified in other categories, such as vacant.)

The city settled a multi-year tax appeal with the pharmaceutical giant in 2011. The settlement including some cash payments by the city and covered the years 2010 through 2012. Merck also agreed to withdraw an appeal for 2009 and not to appeal again for a number of years.

Park Square.Irving StreetThe 159-unit Park Square was responsible for much of the increase in apartment assessment, with a combined $18.9 million now fully taxed as Class 4C Apartment after a five-year Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) expired. The two-complex has an overall property tax bill of about $1.255 million. The total assessment of $18.9 million for 2016 is nearly double the $9.8 million of 2015, when it was still classified as 15 F – Exempt.

Park Square won a tax appeal in 2013 and was sold that same year for $46 million to Mack-Cali. The Irving Street portion of the complex broke ground in 2006 and began leasing in 2009, followed by construction on the Main Street side, completed in 2012. The five-year Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) called for payments of 20 percent of the property tax bill, increasing by 20 percent each year until it reached 100 percent.

Year-over-year changes to overall assessments within Rahway are interesting but it’s just a quick snapshot. It’d be interesting to take a closer look at what changes occurred in surrounding towns or across the county as a point of comparison; did Rahway keep pace with other towns or fall behind? What also would provide more depth would be an examination of the changes within various categories in Rahway over time to more clearly identify trends over the years, and likewise, how those trends compare with the rest of the county and surrounding area. More fodder for a future post.