Ocean County Board of Taxation Grows In A Hurry


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The Asbury Park Press reports: The Ocean County Board of Taxation has gone from a one-man show to one of the biggest such panels in New Jersey in a matter of three months.

“Finally today, we have a full complement of seven commissioners, something that was desperately needed in light of the 14,128 tax appeals this year (in Ocean County),” board President P.G. Waxman said Wednesday morning, following the swearing-in of two more members to the board.

Democrat Glenn Harrison, 53, an attorney from Lakewood, and Republican Mark Ellsworth, 54, a Realtor from Brick, were sworn in during an 8 a.m. ceremony at the Toms River town hall by Superior Court Judge James Den Uyl and County Clerk Carl W. Block, respectively.

The board faces a daunting workload that includes hearing appeals of the 14,128 cases in 2009. By comparison, Bergen County — with the second-highest number of appeals and twice Ocean County’s population — has just 8,000 cases this year.

As the lone commissioner in March and April and most of May, Waxman could hear appeals — with the exception of those appeals in his hometown of Lakewood — but was barred by guidelines set forth from the state Attorney General’s Office from rendering rulings on his own.

That brought work in the county tax office to a grinding halt.

“It is a balanced board with prominent appraisers, lawyers and Realtors,” Waxman said Wednesday.

As is the protocol, the board is composed of four Democrats and three Republicans. The majority party is determined by the governor’s own political affiliation.

Gov. Jon S. Corzine makes appointments to county tax boards with the advice and consent of the state Senate. But due to a variety of political issues and a rather rapid succession of departures from attrition and resignations, the Ocean County board was down to two members beginning last summer. After Commissioner Tony Graziano resigned in March to protest the situation, Waxman found himself in the unprecedented position of being the only member.

The appointments, which are intended to be part-time, come with an annual salary of about $20,000. Since the controversy unfolded in April, Corzine has since appointed a full complement to the board, which the Senate Judiciary Committee approved quickly. In the past, the process of selecting new board members has taken more than a year.