On appeal from the Division of Tax Appeals, Department of the Treasury.
For reversal -- Chief Justice Vanderbilt, and Justices Heher, Oliphant, Burling, Jacobs and Brennan. For affirmance -- Justice Wachenfeld. The opinion of the court was delivered by Oliphant, J.
This is an appeal of the Township of West Milford from a judgment of the Division of Tax Appeals, Department of the Treasury, fixing the assessment on certain watershed property owned by the City of Newark at $1,391,100 for the years 1948-49-50.
The appellant seeks to have the original assessments for each year as made by the local assessor restored. The City
of Newark, on the other hand, cross-appeals claiming the assessment fixed is excessive and seeks to have it established at true value. These appeals have been certified here on our motion.
The assessments for the years 1948, 1949 and 1950 are involved and it was stipulated that the testimony for the year 1948 would constitute the record for the years 1949 and 1950 as well. The assessments for each of the years are as follows:
The land involved consists of 18,548 acres located in the Township of West Milford. On part of the property a reservoir is located but the rest of the property can be classified as watershed property and part of the Newark water supply system.
The property is assessed for local taxation pursuant to the provisions of R.S. 54:4-3.3, which provides inter alia:
"* * * The lands of counties, municipalities, and other municipal and public agencies of this State used for the purpose and for the protection of a public water supply, shall be subject to taxation by the respective taxing districts where situated, at the true value thereof, without regard to any buildings or other improvements thereon, in the same manner and to the same extent as the lands of private persons, but all other property so used shall be exempt from taxation."
Appeals were taken from all the assessments as originally fixed by the township to the county board of taxation and the assessments of the lands were affirmed. Thereafter the City of Newark took an appeal to the Division of Tax Appeals which entered three separate judgments reducing the value for each of the said ...