Prosecutor Mum On Whether He Will Investigate Anonymous Allegations
The Monmouth County Board of Taxation voted unanimously on Friday to reject Freeholder John Curley’s call that they suspend their new method of assessing values on properties in the county for property tax purposes.
Curley’s call to suspend the program came last week after he said received an anonymous letter from a group of realtors, appraisers, tax assessors and former tax assessors alleging that the program, “Tax Assessment Demonstration Program,” is not being implemented in accordance with the law that created it and implying that Matthew Clark, the Tax Board Administrator, has inappropriate dealings with the program vendors.
Curley referred the anonymous letter to Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni, declaring in his own letter to the prosecutor that it is “omnipotent (sic) that all government business be conducted with full transparency, ethical and legal standards.” Curley also wrote Tax Board President James Stuart to request the tax assessment program be suspended while Gramiccioni investigates. He then released the anonymous letter and his letters to Gramiccioni and Stuart to the Asbury Park Press.
In an emergency meeting call for by Tax Commissioner Cliff Moore, the Tax Commission announced that they were writing to Curley to inform him that they would not suspend the program and to Gramiccioni declaring that they would fully cooperate with an investigation, if there is one. Gramiccioni has not yet said if he will investigate the anonymous allegations.
The Prosecutor’s Office has system set up to accept anonymous tips regarding crimes committed in Monmouth County that does not include sending a letter to a freeholder in the midst of a reelection campaign. Citizens with information about a crime or fugitive may contact Monmouth County Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-671-4400, which is a confidential telephone tip line; they can text “MONMOUTH” plus their tip to 274637; or the can email a tip via the website at www.monmouthcountycrimestoppers.com .
In announcing the Tax Board’s decision to reject Curley’s request that the program be suspended, Stuart said that the anonymous allegations are “bereft of any credibility.” Stuart said that the Board “will cooperate in any investigation with the highest level of transparency.”
Stuart defended the program, stating that in the last year since it has been implemented it has resulted in lower assessments and resulting property tax bills for almost 71,000 Monmouth County property owners.
Moore also defended the program, while acknowledging that there are upsets as the change is implemented. “Everyone is on equal playing field,” as a result of the program, he said.