Oct 12, 2020, Observer-Tribune
EDITOR: The Harding Township Civic Association sponsored a Meet the Candidates Night on Oct. 5.
This forum was an excellent opportunity to learn about the substantive positions and personal qualities of the four candidates.
Amanda Richardson and Kate Barry demonstrated that night that they are the best candidates for the Township Committee. They have my vote.
That night Amanda and Kate shared important information about the recent Harding revaluation of Harding properties.
They explained that properties with less than three acres were hard hit with tax assessment increases: the data shows that 83 percent of all such properties saw tax assessment increases.
After subsequent investigation, I learned that one property in this category received a tax increase of over 100 percent. Contrast this result with the tax assessment decreases of properties with ve acres or more: 37 percent of all such improved lots had tax assessment decreases while only 24 percent of properties in this category saw tax assessment increases.
Despite the significant impact on so many Harding citizens, Mayor (Christopher) Yates did not think it necessary to hold a public meeting either before the revaluation took place or after the results were released.
While other nearby towns did host public meetings with the outside appraisal company to explain the methodology and to answer resident questions, Mayor Yates has declined to do so in Harding.
We are left with many unanswered questions. We want to know, for example, how the appraisal company came to its valuation conclusions in light of the fact that in Harding there are so many unique properties and relatively few comparable sales on which to rely.
How were properties grouped together?
How was the at fee applied to lots within each group?
Despite his years of being on our Township Committee, Mayor Yates could offer nothing more than his own personal speculation that larger properties have lost value in recent markets. While Mayor Yates may have heard anecdotes to this effct, he offered no serious or systematic study to prove this to be the case.
What is needed now is clear-eyed, rigorous thinking.
What is needed now is a commitment to fact-based transparency.
What is needed now is Amanda Richardson and Kate Barry to sit on the Harding Township Committee and they deserve our vote on Nov. 3.
WENDY L. MILLER
Spruce Lane, Harding Township