By LINDA MOSS
Montclair property owners will have until Aug. 25 to pay their local third-quarter taxes without facing any penalties, almost a month past the normal due date, according to a resolution passed by the Township Council last week.
Typically, property owners would have only a 10-day grace period from when a quarterly tax bill is due to pay it without being considered delinquent and the town adding interest to it. So for the bill due on Aug. 1, the leeway would have been until Aug. 10, the resolution says.
But this year the township won’t be mailing out the bills for the third-quarterly installment of property taxes until on or before July 21, according to the resolution adopted at the council’s conference meeting. A township property owner’s tax bill goes toward municipal, local school district and county services and uses.
Under the resolution the third-quarter bill will not be considered delinquent if the township receives payment on or before Aug. 25.
Part of the reason for the bills being delayed is that Montclair’s school district, like those across the state, didn’t receive its revised state-aid figures until last Friday, according to Padmaja Rao, the township’s chief financial officer. She added that Bloomfield also had to delay sending out its tax bills.
“Generally, towards the end of May or beginning of June, we get our tax rate certification from the county,” Rao said. “Once we get this certification, we go ahead and send the third-quarter actual bills for printing and mailing. Alternatively, we can send out the estimated bills but administratively we prefer to do actual bills for the third quarter and not wait to do the reconciliation in the 4th quarter. Most municipalities do the same as us.
Even though the Essex County Board of Taxation certified the township’s tax levy July 6, the municipality “was immediately notified that very day to hold off on sending the bills,” Rao said.
The county tax board declined to comment, referring questions to the state Department of Community Affairs. In response, the department forwarded a letter that it sent to municipalities July 14 saying that with final action being taken on the state’s fiscal 2018 budget, additional school aid was being given to many school districts throughout the state.
“Boards of education in these communities are being permitted to reconsider their 2017-2018 budgets and may elect to reduce their property tax levies in an amount not to exceed the increase to their state aid,” the letter said.
“District boards of education/boards of school estimate that are receiving increases in aid and seek to apply additional aid toward reducing the school tax levy are being instructed to immediately contact their municipal tax collector and county tax administrator and confirm whether or not the revision and reissuance of tax bills would be fiscally prudent in light of any additional printing and mailing costs borne by the municipality,” according to the letter.
“For those municipalities that have not yet issued final third-quarter property tax bills, if your school district(s) seeks to apply additional school aid toward reducing the school tax levy, the Division of Local Government Services encourages delaying the issuance of tax bills if it is fiscally prudent for the municipality to do so,” the letter says.