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Westwood Faces Taxes on Flood-Prone Properties

Borough officials said they hope to receive relief on school and county taxes for flood-prone homes being purchased with grants.

Westwood officials are hoping to convince the state to create tax relief legislation which will release the borough, and other New Jersey towns, from having to pay county and school taxes for properties purchased with flood relief grant money.

The borough received more than $2 million in aid from FEMA and the state Department of Environmental Protection to buy and demolish flood-prone homes. The grants cannot be used to pay school and county taxes for the properties, but Westwood is responsible for paying the taxes in the year the homes are purchased, officials said during their meeting this week.

Mayor John Birkner said Westwood is further along in the process than many towns, but he was not sure that the sales would be closed before the end of the year.

"It could certainly be a burden to the municipality," Birkner said.

The exact amount Westwood would be obligated to pay depends on how many of the homes are purchased. The borough hired Miller, Rinaldi & Co. to appraise the homes and is currently waiting for state approval.

If four homes are purchased, Westwood would owe a total of about $22,000 to the local schools and Bergen County, according to borough Administrator Robert Hoffmann. If eight homes are purchased, the total would be about $49,000, though Hoffmann said it is unlikely that many homes will be purchased.

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Jim Leggate at Jim.Leggate@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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