RUMSON: SANDY SHIFTS TAX BURDEN INLAND

Homes like these on 1st Street could see their taxes rise as a result of falling home values closer to the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers.  (Photo by Joe Fisher. Click to enlarge)

By JOE FISHER

Owners of Rumson properties spared damage by Hurricane Sandy will likely see increased  tax bills next year, according to Mayor John Ekdahl.

With a borough-wide property reassessment underway, the mayor said a drop in the value of storm-damaged homes close to the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers will require increased taxes on undamaged properties to pay for municipal services.

“Waterfront homes typically get a higher assessment,’’ Ekdahl said. “But this time it’s going to be different.  Homes that were flooded will pay less, and some homes out of the flood zone could expect to see higher taxes.’’

Ekdahl said the borough lost close to 30 homes in the October 29 storm. Another 70 to 80 homes that were damaged will have to be raised to new height requirements authorized in Federal Emergency Management Administration flood plain guidelines. Coastal residents across New Jersey are nervously awaiting finalized FEMA flood plain maps that will determine exactly what heights homes must be lifted to in order to qualify for national flood insurance.

Ordered last year by Monmouth County and the state to conduct a revaluation, the borough contracted Realty Appraisal Company for the work. Examiners this spring and summer will be visiting all homes to help determine property values. The company will also use prices of recent home sales to determine true market value of all properties.

The borough council also took action Tuesday night to pay contractors $1.5 million of the $3 million spent by the town on storm cleanup work. Ekdahl said three outside contractors, as well as the borough Department of Public Works, picked up and removed tons of storm debris across the town. Much of the debris washed across the Shrewsbury River from neighboring Sea Bright, which was devastated by Sandy.

Borough Administrator Tom Rogers said the money will be paid from borough surplus. Officials hope the town will be reimbursed through FEMA relief funding.