Monday, January 23, 2006

Could Sloppy reval spell Strathmere's secession?

This story was originally published in the Upper Township Gazette on January 19th, 2006. It is reproduced here with permission from writer Nancy Rump.

Could sloppy reval spell Strathmere’s secession? By NANCY RUMP -Staff Writer

STRATHMERE – The question of whether or not the reval in Upper Township will be ready this year seems to be answered as many residents have already received the notices in their mailboxes.

The controversy surrounding the revaluation of the township, however, is only just beginning.

Strathmere residents are the first to react to the reval situation, feeling they will be unjustly taxed in the upcoming year because most have seen their barrier island properties escalate in value.

As a result, a meeting for Strathmere property owners has been slated for 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21 at the Strathmere Firehouse. It is being organized by the Strathmere Taxpayers’ Association, and those attending the session will be encouraged to join the organization at meeting’s conclusion.

There is a fee of $200 to belong to the group, which organizers say will part of an association account used for legal fees and miscellaneous items needed to move the group’s cause forward. The taxpayers’ association is not taking the reval lightly. Attorneys have been invited to attend the meeting and there will be discussion of individually-appealing the recent property assessments.

More importantly, however, will be discussion to take legal action against the township and the reval company in order to force a new revaluation of Strathmere based on, what the group calls, the “apparent incompetence” of the company. Additionally, the association has suggested secession of Strathmere from the Township of Upper. Tyler Technologies Inc., the company that conducted the reval here, has been in hot water with the municipality for months. Most recently was a fear that the revals would not be completed in time for this year. That issue has been settled, according to Mayor Rich Palombo, who confirmed the revals will, indeed, be reflected in the 2006 tax year.

Prior to the company’s delay in getting notices out in a timely manner, Tyler Technologies made a major flub last year when it sent out incorrect reval notices to township residents. The errors were glaring, with some residents listed as having four to six bathrooms in their homes. The company blamed the blunder on a computer glitch.

Said to be appearing at this weekend’s meeting are attorneys Joseph Grimes and Michael Cinco. The association says each have extensive legal expertise in regards to reval matter here.

Presently, any resident with questions or complaints about their reval can contact Tyler Technologies and schedule a meeting or phone dialogue with the company to discuss their respective issues. The company is likely to have its hands full with reval callers because it is also responsible for a reval in North Wildwood, currently at the same stage as Upper’s. The company is also conducting revals in Dennis and Middle townships. Those revals are part of a joint venture to which Upper Township also belongs. Middle is behind and Dennis was experiencing similar delays to Upper at the start of the new year.

Palombo, aware of the furor rising in Strathmere, said he hoped residents there would go the reval company and try to settle their disputes.“The question and answer period we are in now is set aside to do that,” he said. According to Palombo, any appeal after that will go to county. Revals are county mandated; an issue Upper officials think many here might be confusing if they are blaming municipal leaders for bringing the reval to town.

The township entered into the joint reval with Dennis and Middle for cost savings. Selection of Tyler Technologies as the firm that would conduct the revaluation was made because there are only two reval companies that are state approved, Palombo said. “There were about five bidders for the joint reval contract, but only two that were approved,” he said. That left little opportunity to find a company other than this one, he said.

Despite saving money on the mandated reval process, officials have agreed that the services of Tyler Technologies are simply not up to par.“From our standpoint, there has been a breach of contract here and we want to know why this occurred,” Palombo said. Solicitor Dan Young said the contract with Tyler is “confidential.” Asked if the township planned to sue the firm, he said it was a matter officials would decide at the appropriate time. “Right now we getting the reval done in a timely manner has to be our first order of business,” he said.

Nancy Rump can be e-mailed at or you can comment on this story by calling 624-8900, ext. 250.

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