Property taxes skyrocket for some Jersey City residents

Municipal officials in Jersey City, New Jersey, haven't taken a look at property values in 30 years. It means some have been paying more in taxes than they should and others have been paying less. And trying to fix the problem has created another mess.

Dolores Renner, a resident of 74 years, is so afraid for her future that she was speechless. She learned that her taxes are doubling to more than $20,000 a year. She said she can't pay that much and now worries that she will have to sell her home and move.

Dolores and dozens of Jersey City homeowners crammed two neighborhood meetings Monday night to find out how they can deal with their tax hikes. In some cases, the tax bills are quadrupling. And all the while, large tax abatements are still being awarded to developers.

For example, Marie Borrelli's property tax bill was $16,000 last year. She is being ordered to pay more than $41,000 this year.

While many homeowners in the downtown Jersey City area have benefited from an urban renaissance, some may not be able to come up with the extra tens of thousands in taxes.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said the state demanded property values be recalculated because they were last updated in 1988. He said that the city had no choice but to change the tax rates—however dramatic and painful.

Public officials said this move does not increase the tax revenue Jersey City brings in because it just redistributes who pays certain amounts. Regardless, some residents claim it might lead people to move out of the city.