The rise and fall — mostly rise — of property taxes in UC

UNION COUNTY — The average homeowner statewide paid $7,870.28 in property taxes last year, up 1.7 percent over 2011. Eight municipalities in Union County, however, saw their taxes increase by more than 3 percent, while five actually saw taxes drop.

This was the lowest increase statewide in two decades for one of the highest taxed states in the nation, according to information obtained from the New Jersey Department of Treasury, division of Taxation.

New Jersey property taxes, which specifically go toward supporting the counties, towns and schools, actually stayed below the 2 percent mandated state cap, on average. In 2011, the average increase was 2.4 percent.
Despite the statewide average, only nine towns in Union County were at or below the 1.7 percent state average.

With a 0.8 percent drop in taxes, Winfield had the greatest decrease of all 21 municipalities in the county. Plainfield had a 0.4 percent decrease. Elizabeth had a decline of 0.5 percent, the closest to the statewide average.

Roselle homeowners paid an average of $9,056 in property taxes, or a 0.6 percent decline over 2011. However, this town pays one of the highest municipal portion of their taxes at $4,416, surpassed only by Elizabeth which sees $4,743 on average go to the city, per homeowner.
Berkeley Heights property owners, on the opposite end of the spectrum, were among towns paying some of the highest taxes at $11,105, an increase of 0.7 percent.

Rahway had a modest increase of 1.1 percent, with property owners paying an average of $7,826. Roselle Park property owners saw a 1.5 percent increase, but property owners in this borough paid a hefty $8,605 in taxes for 2012, which includes an average school bill over $4,400.

Linden saw a 1.7 percent increase and Hillside a 1.8 percent increase. The average taxpayer in Hillside pays $8,670, while in Linden the average property owner pays $7,873.

Springfield had an increase of 2.5 percent in property taxes, with the average resident paying a total of $10,007, while Union property owners saw a 3.3 percent increase overall, but the average homeowner only paid $7,861, slightly over the statewide average.

Kenilworth came in with a 4.4 percent increase, with the average property owner in the borough paying $7,337.
Paying the highest taxes overall were Summit at $16,050. This city saw a 3.4 percent increase in taxes overall, with the majority of this money, $8,274, going toward the schools, $4,132 to the county and $3,643 for municipal costs.

Recently, Summit officials have voiced objections over the high amount of taxes property owners must pay to the county. According to the state division of taxation, they may have a point.

Out of all 21 municipalities, the average homeowner in Summit hands over the most money to the county at $4,132, while in Westfield, where the average property owner pays the next highest average tax bill of $14,329, only $3,204 of that amount goes to the county.

The average property owner in Winfield paid the least amount of taxes in the county at $3,109, handing over just $82 to the county, $1,436 for municipal costs and $1,591 for schools.

Cranford also figured significantly, with a 3.6 percent increase in taxes over 2011. The average property owner in the township pays $9,903 in overall taxes, with the majority, $5,369, going to the schools and the remainder evenly divided between the town and county.