Property owners who lose their homes to a fire such as the seven structures destroyed in Ocean Grove last week would see some tax relief until they rebuild if legislation introduced this week becomes law.

Ocean Grove fire
(Neptune Township OEM)

Shore Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling and Assemblywoman Joann Downey are co-sponsoring a measure they introduced on Monday to expand the time frame in which tax assessments would take effect and provide breathing room homeowners who lost it all.

The bill (A-4673) would be an extension of an existing system in place for homeowners in Monmouth County which currently has a 'Real Property Assessment Demonstration Program.'

“Since Monmouth County currently operates under a different system, this bill would extend the date that an assessment based on damage can occur so that those who were devastated by last week’s fire can have their property reassessed to reflect the damage, thereby lowering their taxes while they deal with the recovery,” said Houghtaling in a statement.

He adds, “hopefully, this will provide a measure of relief in the aftermath of this tragedy while everyone works to rebuild.”

“Monmouth County’s unique demonstration assessment program is designed to help property owners, but in this particular instance, the deadlines for assessment would not aid the victims of the Ocean Grove fire,” said Downey in a statement. “The process of rebuilding can often be long and arduous, not to mention stressful, so we need to help property owners in anyway we can. Lowering their assessment to reflect their real-time value is a start.”

If the depreciation value of a property occurs from a fire between October First of a tax year and January First of the following year, the property tax from that structure would decreased based on the overall assessment on the current condition of the home or business.

"When the depreciation of value occurs after October First and before May First of the following tax year, that's how they'll determine the value of that real property," said Downey. "(With this measure) you not paying for the property that's been destroyed."

She adds that it's designed to provide some tax relief for fire victims.

"The bottom line is just to give relief to the people who went through all that loss and not have to worry about the fact that now they're paying for property that's devalued," said Downey.

"It's not fair that if your house is destroyed that you would have to pay full value on that property," said Houghtalin.

He adds that the current conditions affecting these property owners was something in need of revision.

"If your house is totally destroyed, under the old would still be required to pay the property value for the 100-percent assessment on that for a lot longer than you need to," said Houghtaling.

A companion bill is ready to be sponsored by New Jersey Senator Jeff Van Drew out in Trenton.

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