TRENTON, N.J.—The County of Mercer and Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes were each dismissed Friday from a lawsuit filed by Robbinsville Mayor David Fried over the township’s mishandling of its tax revaluation.
The Honorable Linda Feinberg, Assignment Judge of Superior Court, Mercer County, ruled today in favor of the County’s motion to have both the County of Mercer and Mercer County Executive dismissed from the January 2010 complaint filed by the Township of Robbinsville and Mayor David Fried. The lawsuit, which attempted to blame the County for a series of missteps in a tax revaluation completed two years late by the township, was transferred to the New Jersey Tax Court.
“We are pleased with the Judge ruling in our favor, which we anticipated, but disappointed that the County taxpayers’ valuable time and money continues to be wasted by Mayor Fried’s questionable motives in pursuing this lawsuit,” said Hughes. “I encourage him to make the good of Robbinsville his priority and drop the lawsuit against the County Board of Taxation.”
In addition to transferring the case to the Tax Court, Judge Feinberg directed that the State Division of Taxation be added as a defendant by way of consent order and indicated that four other Mercer County towns may be forced to conduct a revaluation as a direct result of Fried’s legal action. The Deputy Attorney General, who appeared on behalf of the County Board of Taxation and Tax Administrator Marty Guhl, said in court today that if the case remains in Tax Court, he will recommend that the Division of Taxation add as “indispensable parties” Hamilton, Ewing, Trenton and Lawrence. If upheld, that could force revaluations in those towns at a time when the state budget crisis is wiping out millions of dollars in municipal aid.
Despite Fried’s claim in December 2009 that he and the township “will win easily,” the Court quickly sided with Mercer County, which has no influence over tax revaluations. The County Board of Taxation orders revaluations and is a division of state government. It ordered Robbinsville to perform a revaluation in April 2004, but the township — after engaging in purposeful administrative and legislative delays to effectively ignore the County Board of Taxation’s instructions — did not complete the revaluation until more than two years later to the detriment of Robbinsville residents.