Death and taxes. Let’s talk about the one we can control.

West Windsor’s residential taxpayers shoulder 70 percent of the tax burden while our commercial carry 30 percent. From February through April for the past two years, I make sure that our township’s expenses are tightly tailored to fit our needs and hope that the estimates on revenue are right. The gap is filled by our property taxes.

In trying to better understand our commercial tax base, I have discovered that there are some large commercial property owners whose tax assessment is much lower than their fair market value. For instance, one property assessed at $56 million has a fair market value of $104 million; another assessed at $50 million has a fair market value of $113 million. (These FMV numbers were disclosed to the SEC by the landowners themselves.)

The West Windsor policy of assessing residential properties at 90 percent of their fair market value does not appear to be aggressively followed for commercial properties. Based on only two properties and information I was able to find on the Internet, I was able to find an additional $2 million in taxes that could be added revenue in our $39 million annual budget.

This analysis does not increase the tax rate or impose a higher burden on any particular taxpayer. Rather, it simply requires that we fairly and uniformly implement our taxation policies with respect to all properties in this town. Our residential ratables fit within the 90 percent equalized ratio but our commercial ratables do not.

I submitted a memorandum to council and the administration on Monday, August 21 to explain the problem and outline some solutions.

These are complicated issues and I have a lot more to learn but I will do what is necessary to advocate for all of my taxpayers, both residential and commercial, to ensure that we are fairly and uniformly implementing our tax polices. If anyone can offer me further guidance or insight into the issue, I would welcome your input as I work to better serve West Windsor.

— Ayesha Hamilton
Hamilton is a member of West Windsor Council