Clapp, Jayne and Francis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Francis, J.A.D.
These appeals are primarily concerned with two questions: First, whether certain consent judgments entered on appeals pending in the Division of Tax Appeals were properly authorized by the City of Newark, and second, whether the Division of Tax Appeals committed reversible error in denying the subsequent motion of the city to reopen them.
The record discloses that the five apartment buildings involved were in various stages of completion on October 1, 1952, the assessing date, and they were assessed as in the course of construction. Upon completion, they were revalued when the added assessment rolls were made up for 1953. Each building was appraised at $1,250,000 from the date alleged by the city to be the date of its completion.
The corporate taxpayers paid the taxes under R.S. 54:3-27 and appealed to the Essex County Board of Taxation where, after a full hearing on the merits, the true value of each building was reduced to $1,100,000. The portion of the year for which each one was assessed was also reduced.
On January 19, 1954, further appeals to the Division of Tax Appeals were filed by the owners. Thereafter on January 25 a meeting of the Board of Assessment and Revision of Taxes of the City of Newark was held. It was attended by all of the commissioners, including the president, Jack Slavitt. Representatives of the taxpayers also appeared and, according to the minutes, a discussion took place with respect to adjusting the differences represented by the pending appeals. After discussion, the board went into executive session and resolved to accept the county board valuations
but with the agreement that each building would be deemed completed for a longer portion of the year than was fixed by that board, except in one instance, where the same time period was retained. A motion was made and adopted (with one member dissenting) to put this decision into effect. Slavitt, the president of the board, voted in the affirmative.
Up to this time the city had not appealed from the action of the county board. Presumably because it was considered incongruous to enter consent judgments increasing the liability of the taxpayers in the pending appeals instituted by them to achieve a reduction thereof, it was decided that appeals should be taken by the city in the five cases and appropriate stipulations entered into before the Division of Tax Appeals to accomplish the desired result. The minutes contain a detailed statement of the stipulation to be made in each case. A representative of the taxpayers was recalled and advised of the proposal. He agreed thereto.
On this same day the city filed the petitions of appeal, all of them executed by Slavitt as president of the board of assessment and revision of taxes. And on January 29 a letter was written by the board to the then corporation counsel, advising him of the agreement in each case and instructing him to execute the necessary papers.
Six months elapsed before the consent judgments were obtained. On May 27, 1954 counsel for the taxpayers and for the city executed a formal stipulation in each case which set forth the agreement as to valuation and assessment period. Each stipulation was supported by an affidavit of Arthur Padula, an officer and owner of 50% (and possibly all) of the stock of each corporation, submitted presumably to meet the requirements of R.S. 54:2-42 for verification "by qualified experts as to the facts" alleged in the stipulation "in support of the valuations therein consented to." The five consent judgments were approved by the Division and entered on June 29, 1954.
The comparative effect of these judgments may be shown as follows:
1953 city Portion board Portion consent Portion
assessed of year assessed of year assessed of year
value assessed value assessed value assessed
ONE $1,250,000 3 mos. $1,100,000 2 mos. ...