FREEHOLD, NJ – The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, HarvardUniversity, recognized the Monmouth County Online Assessment Appeal System (Online Appeal System) as part of the 2015 Bright Ideas program.
“This recognition speaks directly to the County’s ongoing efforts to provide enhanced and efficient services,” said Freeholder Director Gary J. Rich, liaison to the County Tax Board. “Property owners can file a property assessment appeal with the County Tax Board online in a cost-effective and convenient way.”
This year, the Ash Center recognized 124 programs from all levels of government—school districts; county, city, state, and federal agencies; as well as public-private partnerships—that are at the forefront in innovative government action.
“The Bright Ideas program demonstrates that often seemingly intractable problems can be creatively and capably tackled by small groups of dedicated, civic-minded individuals,” said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in Government Program at the Ash Center. “As exemplified by this year’s Bright Ideas, making government work better doesn’t always require massive reforms and huge budgets. Indeed, we are seeing that, in many ways, an emphasis on efficiency and adaptability can have further-reaching effects than large-scale reforms.”
MonmouthCounty’s Bright Idea, the Online Appeal System, has made it possible for a property owner to file an assessment appeal at any time of the day or night.
“All the relevant documents are uploaded and held within the County’s state-certified document repository and are available for electronic review by only those parties connected to a pending action,” said Matthew S. Clark, County Tax Administrator. “We have streamlined the process internally and externally with the end result being a modernization of this important government service.”
MonmouthCounty has begun offering the Online Appeal Service to other New Jersey counties, and so far, Burlington, Hudson and Union have signed on and implemented the service for their property owners.
“The Online Appeal System is another example of MonmouthCounty's continued dedication to excellence, innovation and leadership in the field of shared services,” said Freeholder Thomas A. Arnone. “Beyond the AshCenter’s recognition, three other New Jersey counties are using this system and maintaining service levels while simultaneously reducing the cost to taxpayers.”
Property owners who believe their property has an assessed value that is unreasonable compared to a market value standard can file an assessment appeal. By law, a current assessment is assumed to be correct. A taxpayer who files an appeal must overcome the presumption of correctness in the existing assessment by submitting recent comparable sales data.
To begin the online tax appeal process, a property owner must register with the appeals section of the OPRS and gain a secure log-on with a password. The electronic filing process requests current, basic property and assessment information as well as credible evidence as to why the tax assessment appeal should be granted. In addition to recent comparable sales data, items of credible evidence may include property photographs, information about the comparable properties and factual evidence of other related circumstances.
“Because electronic filing may not be for everyone, property owners may also continue to file assessment appeals in paper format if they prefer,” Clark said.
“We are honored by the AshCenter’s recognition,” said Clark. “We are preparing to deploy similar technologies in other functional areas to further enhance the quality of public service while further reducing costs.”
This is the fourth cohort recognized through the Bright Ideas program, an initiative of the broader Innovations in American Government Awards program. For consideration as a Bright Idea, programs must currently be in operation or in the process of launching and have sufficient operational resources and must be administered by one or more governmental entities; nonprofit, private sector, and union initiatives are eligible if operating in partnership with a governmental organization. Bright Ideas are showcased on the AshCenter’s Government Innovators Network, an online platform for practitioners and policymakers to share innovative public policy solutions.
The AshCenter for Democratic Governance and Innovation advances excellence in governance and strengthens democratic institutions worldwide. Through its research, education, international programs, and government innovations awards, the Center fosters creative and effective government problem solving and serves as a catalyst for addressing many of the most pressing needs of the world’s citizens. For more information, visit www.ash.harvard.edu.