Hillsborough Township saw a $19 million drop in its rateables base in 2012 that could be attributed to factors ranging from tax appeals, Open Space purchases, corrected errors from property revaluations, or other items.
According to Township Tax Assessor Debra Blaney, Hillsborough’s rateables base dropped since 2011, and is $5,553,184,016 for 2012. In 2011, it came in at $5,572,347,983.
The rateables base includes residential properties, farm land—including houses on farmland and the land that’s actually used for farming—commercial business, including retail, strip malls and offices, industrial business, like warehouses and manufacturing and apartments.
“It could be tax appeals that were filed, Open Space that was purchased because once those are bought they become exempt,” Blaney said. “It’s a combination of different things. It could be properties that were damaged by fires, or it could be a correction of errors.”
Another factor that contributes to the drop in rateables is tax assessment appeals and corrections to the 2010 property revaluation, Blaney said.
About 150 residents filed assessment appeals at the county level following the 2010 revaluation, according to the Township Tax Assessor’s office. Between 65 and 70 assessment appeals were filed on the state level, though several of the state appeals were transferred from the county level—meaning there could be an overlap there, Blaney noted.
The impact on tax rates—except for the fire budget, which is built using the 2011 rateables base and which Blaney handles—would be determined by the Somerset County Tax Administrator’s Office, since that is the office that sets the rates.
“Everybody has the misconception that I do the tax rates, but I don’t,” Blaney said. “The only rate that I certify is the fire budget. All other budgets are sent to the County Tax Administrator, who calculates the rates.”
An increase in the ratable base might translate to a drop in the township tax rate, however, the increase would need to be significant in order to translate to tax savings, according to Nancy Haberle, township chief financial officer and tax collector. The rateable decrease could have a larger range of effects.
“Generally, we can spread the tax levy amongst the rateables if the increase in significant,” Haberle said. “If the increase in significant, you could see a decrease in the amount of taxes you pay. I emphasize the word ‘could’ because it would have to be significant.”
While the township introduced its budget in April last year, Haberle noted that it is still waiting on state aid figures for 2012. Those aid amounts are contingent on Gov. Chris Christie’s budget presentation from Tuesday afternoon.
“We don’t know if the tax levy will increase because we don’t know our state aid money,” Haberle said. “ Whatever Gov. Christie announces determines how we will work our budget. Whether it goes up, down or remains flat will determine how much work we have to do.”
The following chart explains the town’s rateables breakdown. It does not include the from revenue public utilities, such as power and water companies, which is why the total is different from the figure above.
Number of Properties
Residential (four families or fewer)
Farm (where house is located)
Farm (land that is used for farming)
Commercial (retail, offices)
Rateables Total (excludes public utilities)