How to keep our ratables

It’s all about ratables. But, it’s not about all ratables. It’s about having the right
ratables and the development proposed for the water company property is the
wrong ratable. We don’t need ratables that will substantially alter life in New Milford as we know it. We don’t need a development that will likely end up costing more than the extra revenue it will bring in.

Why do I think this? The part of development that many government officials seem to forget about is the cost of infrastructure improvements that become necessary to deal with the new development.      

Based on my experience in real estate, I believe the development will bring in an
additional $200,000 in revenue to the borough. That’s $200,000 in an $18 million budget, a little more than an extra 1%. In perspective, that's not a lot of extra revenue.  

If the development happens, look at what we’re in for. We will likely need to widen River Road and Main Street. Is that a million dollar project? The last school expansion cost over $3 million. What will the next one cost? Using FEMA money, New Milford is soon to be the proud owner of five houses in town. 
In addition, because Columbia and Harvard Streets and Holland Avenue and
others are in known flooding areas, the assessed value of these houses have
declined by $16 million. What does this mean to you? Every year, the 200 plus
houses in our flooding areas provide over $2 million in tax revenue to the
town. It means that while the homeowners in the flooding areas will see their property taxes go down, the rest of us will have to make up the difference.

So, what’s the best way to deal with this? What we need to do is work diligently to make sure we keep the ratables we have. Why not do what we can to help these people maintain their property values by working to reduce or eliminate the flooding. If we can help them, we can help ourselves. By putting a flood mitigation plan in place, we will ultimately help our own tax situation. If they maintain their property values, they will continue to pay higher taxes and we will not have to pick up some of their share.              

Howard Berner

Borough Council President

Borough of New Milford

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Ulises October 15, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Councilman Berner, it's a shame Subrizi, Colucci, and Robalino totally disagree with you because you're right and I've even preaching this for over a year already. Instead, these officials are knocking on doors, campaigning for you, and telling my neighbors, on Columbia Street, that their Mega ShopRite Strip Mall is a "done deal" and we need those ratables. They are hurting your message and their lack of vision is hurting this town.
TommyIce October 15, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Howard I wish you would have started writing these pieces back when this UW debacle started. I'm having difficulty reconciling in my own mind about whether or not once re-elected you will join the party line on this and vote with Colucci and Robalino. In all fairness, I also question whether the Democrats, if they win a majority, will put the brakes on this project or will they vote for it and realize DeBari's dream for development.
Anthony October 15, 2012 at 04:00 PM
I agree, "me thinks the gentleman protests too much". These headline messages coming out now rather than when this all started is quite suspect. Also the democrats are the reason that we don't own this property already, including one of their candidates that is running again. They did not get, while the getting was good and we will all suffer for it. If it cannot be open space, keep it zoned single family homes. If my property tax bill is any indication, 40 homes will generate $600-k+ per year in taxes vs. the $200-k that has been floating around as the revenue the commercial development.
Sam B. October 15, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Howard...Maybe you can explain your sudden change of heart. A few months ago you were all for this development, even referencing to 100 people you spoke to that aso favored the development. I'm very skeptical as to your motives. Are you really anti-development or do you see all the resistance to it and figure every SOD sign you see is probably 2 or more votes against those supporting this unpopular plan. In addition, you've recused yourself from voting on this issue so we will never have you officially on record. Your ideas are fine and I wish I could be totally convinced, but Subrizi used anti-development as a way to get elected and we now see her true colors. I just wish you came forward sooner and not so close to election day.
Howard Berner October 15, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Sam B, thank you for your comment. You are right, I spent much of last year asking residents about their thoughts about the water company development and most thought that the Shop-Rite and a football field sounded good. Time has passed, however, and many of those same people have different thoughts about the development. Many people now see the larger impact upon our community. My job, as a Councilman, is to listen to the people when they tell me what they want and to make it happen.
Pat October 15, 2012 at 09:43 PM
How much tax money does the existing Shoprite and bank bring in now?
tony mac October 16, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Mr Berner, How do you plan to reduce flooding? What is your plan? What do you know that engineers don't? isn't Boswell say no fault? 2003 class action suit against the water company, blaming them for the flood in 1999. 10 minutes after the case so given to the jury the decision is rendered: no fault. This weekend in the paper the case against spring valley for flood damage is made: no fault. What do you know that that others don't? Pease, help the flood victim and share your knowledge!
Ulises October 16, 2012 at 01:43 AM
Pat, the Inserra ShopRite property was assessed at $6,659,600 in 2011. This year it's assessed at $5,500,200, a decrease of $1,159,400. Their property taxes dropped from $158,831 to $134,644, a drop of 15.2% or loss revenue of $24,187 for the town. This is the same type of depreciation in value that will occur with the new ShopRite being proposed on the United Water property, along the river. In time, it will loss it's assessed value and their taxes will come down too and the residents make up the difference with a higher tax bill in the future. At the end of the day, you'd increase traffic, our police force, pollution, made flooding worse which will lose revenue when more homes in the low lying neighborhoods get brought up, road repairs, etc... and you're stuck with a higher tax bill in the years to come. So, that's the "Gamble" Subrizi, Colucci and Robalino want to take in their "Done Deal", "Compromise" with their "Developer" friends.
Pat October 16, 2012 at 02:19 AM
What about the bank
Anthony October 16, 2012 at 02:19 AM
So even if the new comercial property kicks off double the taxes, single family homes would produce almost twice the tax revenue if you figure 40+ houses at $12,000 per house. Plus some of those homes could be created as low income and meet the COAH requirements. I would prefer open space, but his simple revenue calculation is a very solid argument against re-zoning , which in turn would lower the value of the property, which in turn would make it more affordable to buy with grant money.
Rory G. October 16, 2012 at 03:35 AM
Inserra's assessment did not decrease simply because of your contention that commercial properties decline in value.The Shop Rite property was assessed at that same $6,659,600 as far back as 2007. In order for the assessment to have decreased this year, Inserra would have had to file an appeal and win. Considering how real estate values really started to decline significantly starting in 2008, it's a safe bet that most properties in New Milford, both commercial and residential, have lost at least the same % or their value as Inserra's has over that period of time. That's why we're having the entire borough reassessed this year. Once everyone's reassessed at the lower values, Inserra's share of the tax burden will increase.
Ulises October 16, 2012 at 03:37 AM
Pat, what bank? I know Inserra wants to move to the United Water property and I believe we'll just get a different bank in town and another nail salon, etc... for the strip mall. The depreciation in assessed value will offset all new taxes, as demand for services increases in future years, as I stated above, and the town becomes Hudson County Part II with the guidance of the Mayor and those Council members so eager to rezones it to commercial.
newmilford1967 October 16, 2012 at 11:34 AM
Howard why the change of heart now? You should of run as independent and not run under Team Subrizi who is just gonna do what they want.They are telling residents its a done deal of rezoning it commercial. Why would they stab you in the back.I think sod is correct to try to get the funding or some other way but you my friend are flip flopping and I and everyone in New Milford are wondering why? So tell us the truth.
Pat October 16, 2012 at 11:49 AM
I still do not see where you are insisting that there will be an increase in services needed. We are talking about MOVING the shoprite to a different location. Same services, just moved down the road. I am quite confident the existing bank will move also. How many "services" will a strip mall need? Lets cut to the chase here. The police are looking to hire more cops as the latest promotions have left the number of actual patrolmen on the low side. The fire truck needs to be replaced, the fire houses both need work. The roads need to get paved. All of this is true and it is not an effect of a new development.
Howard Berner October 16, 2012 at 12:37 PM
tony mac..unfortunately, we can't rely on United Water to do anything for us. So, we need to undertake a flood mitigation plan like Garfield. Using FEMA money, they put 9 retention basins underground which takes over 2 million gallons of water off the Passaic River and holds it until it can be released at low tide. Has nearly eliminated normal flooding in town. No, it likely will not help during a hurricane, but it has been 12 years in between our last two hurricanes. Then, using Green Acres money, they built a sports complex on top. Of course, Blue Acres money did not exist then, so we have an additional source of money to complete this. I think about the over 200 houses in our flooding areas and the loss of property value those homeowners are facing and the over $2 million in property taxes they pay that I want them to continue to pay. So we need to do something to keep them in their houses and help them keep their property values higher so they continue to pay over $2 million in property taxes. In the long run, if we can reduce the flooding, it's a benefit to us all. If they don't pay the $2 million, who do you think will?
Anthony October 16, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Pat the existing shop rite location will become a Marshall's or some other store. A businessman like Inserra is not going to leave that sit. There will be a new bank a new strip mall and family restaurant like an Applebee's or red lobster. So for you to say there will be no increase in need of services is a bit naive. And if they put in 200 apartments, then the real fun will start with the need to expand the schools etc. It is one thing to be against something, it is another to deny reality and the reality is that this is going absolutely stress the infrastructure and essential services of New Milford.
Lori Barton October 16, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Pat, do you honestly think that all this is about is moving ShopRite to a new location? It's about a far BIGGER ShopRite, with all the things that bigger supermarkets bring: increased hours of operation, in-store liquor store, MORE customers with MORE traffic, MORE crime, etc. While the NMPD is looking to hire more officers, the fire department has their needs, and there is roadwork necessary in town, ALL of that and MUCH MORE will be needed if this development is allowed to proceed. Open space is the LEAST costly and most fiscally conservative solution.
Pat October 17, 2012 at 01:10 AM
Lori, it is 10,000 square feet bigger. That is not what I would consider far bigger. There is no liquor license's left in town that I am aware of. Anthony, I am far from naive. If you would like to talk reality, lets do so. He will build a shoprite, a bank, and a strip mall. There will be NO RESIDENTIAL portion. The town will have him widen river road. The old location should be bought by the town and they can build a senior housing / center there. Open space is not the least costly solution. How much will the maintenance of the property cost the tax payers of the town? What will the cost be to turn it into a usable park area? Take emotions out of this and really think about the real costs involved.
Anthony October 17, 2012 at 01:23 AM
You are incorrect, it is a 70,000 sq ft store vs 30,000 sq ft. The application as it sits includes 200+apartments . How will buying and building on the old site not cost the taxpayers money?
Pat October 17, 2012 at 01:36 AM
No Anthony, the old shoprite is 2 floors and just under 60,000 SF. I did not say it wouldn't cost money to buy the old property. I do not have a problem spending money if it is good for the town. I think senior housing is good for the town, and can fulfill the COACH requirements. Spending money is not a bad thing as long as it is not wasted. Like the field of dreams, although no one could possibly support the project yet as there is not yet a price tag, or a solid plan, I would be OK with spending for it if it is an improvement for the town and not a monstrosity of wasted money.
Ulises October 17, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Don't worry Pat, stick with Subrizi, Colucci and Robalino and your prayers wil be answered. The proposed Mega ShopRite Strip Malll Bank is on 16 acres versus 3 acreas where the existing one resides. Let's say the developers, who only builds apartment complexes throughout the state, donates 3 acres to the town as he supposedly told the Mayor, that brings it to a 13 acrea strip mall. You don't consider 13 acreas, developed along a river, near a flood zone, that far bigger than the the existing 3 acrea ShopRite in the center of the town's commerce district? Then you said we should buy the existing ShopRite, another Subrizi idea, with no grants (because the Mayor doesn't believe in them) - so where are you going to come up with $6M for the land plus another approximate $5M to build senior housing. You just increased taxes for years to come with your vision.
Pat October 17, 2012 at 02:00 AM
Ulises, do not pretend that you know who I do or do not support. Perhaps you should look at the developer a little better. I did not say how to pay for the property, I am not sure that is the best idea, it might not be, it might not even be possible. It is an idea that is mine that i think is not a bad one if the opportunity arises. Perhaps we let the market do its thing. I do not even know who actually owns the property. Tone yourself down. It is a discussion, an opinion that differs from yours to some extent.
Ulises October 17, 2012 at 02:23 AM
The ShopRite is owned by Inserra. My apologies if you felt my tone was too harsh but I'm just analyzing your opinion and that's what this forum is all about, exchanging ideas and opinions. The second the zoning is changed to commercial the developer wins it all, including the COAH requirements because amendments to the master plan are not even being considered by the M&C. Please click on the link below so you can see what Hekemian, the developer, is in business for: http://www.hekemian.com/about.php In their own words "...We seek multi-family, retail, mixed-use, and industrial properties that are centrally located, well-anchored and situated in prime geographic areas..."
Lori Barton October 17, 2012 at 12:16 PM
You need to compare floor selling space vs floor selling space. So the proposed new ShopRite will be far more than "only" 10,000 sq ft more. PLUS, any commercial or retail development will trigger a requirement for EVEN MORE affordable housing. I guess I just can't understand how anyone could prefer paving over green space in a community with so little green space left to make way for a supermarket that has the approvals to rebuild bigger and better right where they are. To each his own, but once that green space is gone, it is gone forever. To turn the area into a usable park, grant monies are available. And the maintenance of that would be far less than the costs associated with large retail/commericial development: increased police, fire, emergency and court costs. Plus, as the commercial property decreases in value with their allowable depreciation, the residential taxpayers will pick up more and more of the costs. It's a lose-lose for New Milford if any of this development is allowed.
Denise October 17, 2012 at 04:56 PM
To add a bit of levity, I do hope a new Wegman's will be built up in Montvale where DePero's is. It will put ShopRite, Pathmark, Stop & Shop, Whole Foods, Fairway etc. to shame. For those who have never been to Wegman's, you will walk in and your jaw will drop. Trust me, it happened to me......
lynnegad October 21, 2012 at 10:37 PM
INTERESTING READ: "Four million to save and turn into something, somebody should step up to the plate," New Milford Mayor Ann Subrizi said. "I wish this was my project to save." (River Dell Patch) These are the words of our Mayor regarding the saving of the Blauvelt Mansion in Oradell. Well, Mayor Subrizi, you do have a project to save and that is the United Water Property!!!! STEP UP TO THE PLATE!


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