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Bennett v. Millville City

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


May 16, 2007

JOSEPH BENNETT, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
MILLVILLE CITY, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.

On appeal from the Tax Court of New Jersey, Docket No. 005542-2005.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued: May 2, 2007

Before Judges Cuff and Fuentes.

Joseph Bennett, the taxpayer, appeals from the order of the Tax Court that affirms the judgment entered by the Cumberland County Board of Taxation regarding the 2005 assessment of the taxpayer's commercial property in Millville, Cumberland County. The taxpayer argues that the Tax Court judge ignored the evidence submitted by him of assessments of comparable properties. We affirm.

In 2004, all real property in Millville was revalued. On January 31, 2005, a notice of property tax assessment for 2005 was mailed to the taxpayer for his property at 819 North 2nd Street in Millville. According to the notice, the assessed value of the land was $33,700 and the assessed value of the building was $124,900. The total assessment was $158,600.

The taxpayer filed a timely appeal with the County Board of Taxation. On June 2, 2005, the County Board of Taxation issued a memorandum of judgment that reduced the total assessed value from $158,600 to $145,700. The taxpayer filed a timely appeal in the Tax Court.

In his appeal before the Tax Court, the taxpayer presented information derived from public records of the assessments of comparable properties. Judge Small denied the taxpayer's appeal. In his oral opinion, Judge Small reiterated the taxpayer's burden of proof and discussed the type and quality of evidence that must be produced to succeed. First, citing Aetna Life Insurance Co. v. City of Newark, 10 N.J. 99, 105 (1952) and The Pantasote Co. v. City of Passaic, 100 N.J. 408, 412-13 (1985), the judge noted that the judgment of a county board of taxation carries a presumption of validity. Furthermore, the taxpayer must submit evidence that is "definite, positive and certain in quality and quantity to overcome the presumption." Aetna, supra, 10 N.J. at 105. Second, Judge Small explained that evidence of comparable assessments is not competent evidence to attack the correctness of a tax assessment. Rather, a taxpayer must produce evidence of sales of comparable properties or rentals of comparable properties. Evidence of comparable rentals provides relevant evidence to a cost analysis, the approach generally utilized in the assessment of commercial property. Finding that the evidence produced by the taxpayer was insufficient to overcome the presumption of correctness, Judge Small affirmed the County Board of Taxation judgment.

We have examined the record submitted to the Tax Court in its entirety and discern no error. We, therefore, affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by Judge Small in his oral opinion.

Affirmed.

20070516

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