For the prosecutor, Louis J. Miller (Joseph L. Lippman and Herbert H. Fine, of counsel).
For the respondents Public Service Electric and Gas Company, William H. Speer and Joseph V. Suter.
Before Justices Bodine, Heher and Wachenfeld.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
WACHENFELD, J. These proceedings bring up for review a judgment of the Division of Tax Appeals relating to an assessment for the year 1945 upon improvements located in the Town of Kearny. These improvements consist of twelve buildings, three bridges between the buildings, and yard improvements, all comprising the Kearny generating station of the Public Service Electric and Gas Company. The land valuation is not contested.
The assessment upon these improvements was set at $7,425,000 by the Town of Kearny. The company appealed to the County Board, which, in the absence of any expert testimony on behalf of the town, heard testimony concerning valuation submitted by the taxpayer's expert witness and reduced the assessment to $4,614,600. The municipality appealed to the Division of Tax Appeals and for the first time produced expert proof as to valuation. The reduction by the County Board was affirmed.
Article 4, section 7, paragraph 12, New Jersey Constitution of 1844, as amended, established true value as the basis for assessment for taxes, which means fair market value as of the assessment date. R.S. 54:4-23; Charles Warner Co. v. State Board of Taxes, &c., 1 N.J. Mis. R. 26.
This court has the burden of evaluating the evidence and determining the facts and the quantum of assessment in accordance with the constitutional and statutory standards, R.S. 2:81-8; R.S. 54:4-58, 59, 62; Jersey City v. Sun Holding Co., 134 N.J.L. 119, but determinations of fact by the State Board will not be disturbed unless the evidence is persuasive that there was error. Tennant v. Jersey City, 122 Id. 174; affirmed, 123 Id. 200; Plainfield v. State Board of Tax Appeals, 19 N.J. Mis. R. 313; Haworth v. State Board of Tax Appeals, 127 N.J.L. 67; Prudential Insurance Company
of America v. Division of Tax Appeals, 133 Id. 153; Atlantic City Electric Co. v. Egg Harbor Township, 135 Id. 60.
Expert witnesses for both sides sought to arrive at the true value of the improvements by reproduction cost depreciated. They agreed the average construction date for all the structures was 1926 and the average age as of October 1st, 1944, the assessing date, was eighteen years. They also agreed that the depreciation factor of two per cent. per annum was proper.
Disagreement arises primarily as to the proper method of calculating reproduction cost. Two experts for the municipality submitted a jointly written appraisal in which they multiplied the cubical dimensions of the structures, which in most instances are the same figures as the company's, by unit costs as of the assessing date. In this manner a reproduction ...