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City of Passaic v. Botany Mills Inc.

Decided: February 11, 1960.

CITY OF PASSAIC, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
BOTANY MILLS, INC., RESPONDENT-RESPONDENT, AND DIVISION OF TAX APPEALS, DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY, RESPONDENT



Goldmann, Conford and Haneman. The opinion of the court was delivered by Conford, J.A.D.

Conford

The City of Passaic appeals from a judgment of the Division of Tax Appeals in the State Department of the Treasury, which affirmed judgments of the Passaic County Board of Taxation reducing personal property tax assessments of Botany Mills, Inc. for the tax years 1955 and 1956. That concern was engaged in the manufacture and distribution of woolens and worsteds in Passaic.

Passaic's assessors assessed the personal property of the taxpayer at $2,150,000 and $1,450,000 for the respective tax

years, 1955 and 1956. On appeal the county board reduced the assessments to $1,333,600 for 1955 and $1,040,642 for 1956. The appeals having been heard de novo before the State Division we have only the transcript of proceedings there, not the record of what transpired before the county board.

Passaic's appeal to the Division of Tax Appeals was heard before a panel of two of its members. The city proved the recent previous assessment history of Botany's personalty as being the following:

1949-1951, incl. $2,400,000

1952 2,450,000

1953 and 1954 2,350,000

The city then called Alfred J. Greene, Jr., an assessor of the city when the assessments in question were made. He testified that he and two associates visited and inspected Botany's plant in December 1953 in preparation for the making of its 1954 personal property assessment, and discussed the value of the property with Mr. Shaddock, president of the company. The latter "revealed values" of the "prior year" of "approximately $25 million" and "currently approximately $21 million."

In preparation for the making of the 1955 assessment Mr. Greene conferred with a Mr. Gerlack, the then designated representative of Botany for that purpose, in November or December 1954. Mr. Gerlack could not give the current values, as such, but told Mr. Greene and his associates that there had been a reduction of approximately 10% from the valuations of the prior year, "or somewhere around $19 million," on the basis of Mr. Shaddock's 1953 estimate of $21 million.

A discussion with Mr. Gerlack in 1955 preparatory to fixing the 1956 assessment, together with other information, "developed that the values had been ...


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