Just read the piece in today's HNT - Towns feel squeeze of record tax appeals. Tried to get the on-line link but it wasn't up there or it's part of new subscription service. Either way, I'm not able to give it to you.
It's a really good piece and sheds some serious light on the issue and it's fall-out - and you should read it when you can.
But, you know what's really ironic? Guess who was quoted up and down the piece? Senor Council President Rob 'March on Trenton' Karabinchak! You remember him, that bastion of protection for the tax weary residents of Downtown Edison.
Anyhoo, I thought there was something missing from the piece, so I shared my thoughts via email with one of the reporters who did the piece - and here's my thoughts:
Just read the above-mentioned piece in today’s HNT. Thought it was a very informative piece highlighting the issue and it’s fall-out. However, what caught my eye was the reference to and quotes from Edison Council President Rob Karabinchak. No doubt Mr. Karabinchak is well versed in the tax appeal process for both homeowners and businesses and has carried the lobbying torch down to Trenton, as you indicated. He’s certainly a knowledgeable source and a good reference to use in the piece.
But, when you use quotes like ‘The burden of tax appeals falls to the homeowners’, ‘that’s not fair’, ‘constitutionally everybody is allowed to appeal their taxes’ etc. - you know what’s missing from this piece and his quotes?
Disclosure of his own tax appeal!
At the June 13, 2012 Council Meeting, Mr. Karabinchak put forth a resolution (R.355-062012) authorizing a conflict tax assessor and attorney for any appeal before the Middlesex County Board of Taxation. It was approved. The resolution did not reference anywhere that he was the one filing the tax appeal and causing the need for a conflict assessor and attorney. He only offered up that info when he was asked directly at the meeting. I know, I asked him.
So, you can imagine my surprise when he talks in this piece of what’s fair, the taxpayer’s burden, etc. - yet he has no problem joining in on the tax appeal process and conveniently forgetting to let the residents of Downtown Edison know. Is that fair? Guess we all have our own definition of what’s fair.
Clearly, Mr. Karabinchak has the same right as anyone else to file a tax appeal and that goes without question - but it becomes a tad bit hypocritical to be the torch bearer for the tax appeal battered residents when you sponsor a resolution for yourself at the last minute, dump some more costs on the residents for a conflict assessor and attorney and forget to disclose that fact in the resolution - thereby trying to keep the residents of Edison in the dark that the resolution was for him. Concern isn’t his tax appeal – it’s his trying to hide it.
So, you’ll forgive me if I don’t take Mr. Karabinchak’s concern for the tax appeal battered residents too seriously or jump on his his request that we demand tax appeal reform by contacting our state legislators. Hey, not for nothing, but this is the same guy who last year told the people of Edison that there was a zero municipal tax hike – even after the tax bills went out and we already paid half the year’s 2.9 cent or 2.7% municipal tax hike.
Anyhoo, I thought the piece was very good and helpful to the residents – but it would of been better if there was just that tad bit more disclosure.
But hey, I'd say more but I got to go and contact my state legislators so they can change the law for homeowners so we can pay Karabinchak over 3 years just like the commercials - in case he wins his tax appeal.