The municipal tax assessor has been placed on paid administrative leave as Wall officials review the work completed by the company hired to place values on all of the properties in the township.
Wall Township Administrator Jeff Bertrand said Wednesday he asked Tax Assessor William FitzPatrick to “not be in the office” while he and the township’s tax attorney undertake the review of Realty Appraisal Company, which won a $715,000 contract to conduct a town-wide revaluation.
Those “nuances” were highlighted in an Asbury Park Press investigation into Monmouth County’s Assessment Demonstration Program, a pilot program that radically changes the county’s property tax system.
Among the findings: FitzPatrick — along with Tinton Falls Assessor Scott Imbriaco and the father-in-law of Monmouth Tax Administrator Matthew S. Clark — is a part-owner of a photography company that has been hired by Realty Appraisal for revaluations. While the photography company is not currently doing work in Monmouth County, it took pictures for Realty Appraisal under the revaluation it is performing in Union County’s Roselle Park.
FitzPatrick has been Wall’s assessor since October 2012 and is considered an active employee, according to township records. He is paid $87,019 annually from Wall. He’s also the assessor in Neptune City and Shrewsbury since July 2014, where he makes $22,000 and $25,500, respectively.
Wall’s actions come as Assemblyman David Rible, R-Monmouth and Ocean, once again called for the Monmouth County Tax Board to suspend the program.
Rible wrote a letter to Tax Board President James Stuart Tuesday after the board met, but did not suspend the program. Tax board members say they don’t know if they have the jurisdiction under the law to suspend the program. A New Jersey Department of Treasury spokesman told the Press that the tax board can vote to suspend the program.
Rible said he is seeking opinions directly from the treasury department and the Attorney General’s Office to see what agency would need to act to suspend the pilot program.
“I feel, right now, it would be in the best interest of the county to suspend the program,” he said. “It would be a sign of assurance to make sure everything has been done properly and will be done properly.”