In 2015, the tax assessor lowered the assessed value of the now vacant former Merck headquarters building by 28% or $62 million. Residents have asked how much this will impact homeowners’ property taxes. The answer is, not much. Tax records on the DCA website show that in 2014, Readington’s ratable base totaled $2.663 billion. The 2015 Equalization Table on the County website shows that the new total is $2.609 billion - the Merck change impacted that total by only 2%.
Our property taxes are the sum of taxes from four entities: County (16%), Regional Schools (25%), Local Schools (40%), and Municipal (19%). While all these budgets are not yet finalized, it appears that total taxes for this year will rise by only about 1.5% - close to the normal cost of living increase.
A closer look reveals that the drop in Merck's value is now being offset by new development along Route 22. In less than two years, one senior housing development, the Regency at Readington, has added over $20 million to our tax rolls. Construction is moving along quickly with 210 homes approved. The homes that have sold have an average assessed value of $436,000. When fully completed, this development will add a total of over $90 million in new assessments to Readington’s tax base. Several other developments are under construction that will also be adding to our ratable base, so Readington taxpayers can rest assured that their property taxes will continue to remain relatively stable.
Of course, Readington is making every effort to assist Merck Corporation, its professional realtor, Cushman and Wakefield, and the State Office of Economic Development, to find a suitable buyer for the iconic Merck Headquarters building. Their success is about more than taxes. The continued commercial use of the Merck property is important for Readington and for Hunterdon County because it brings high paying jobs to our area, and bolsters our residential property values.
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April 14, 2015