EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Responding to an unprecedented spike in tax appeals over the past several years, and millions of dollars in refunds, Atlantic County is making progress toward landing on a new way to assess property values.

A bipartisan committee that's tasked with coming up with a countywide system could deliver an official recommendation by year's end, according to the committee chair and township Mayor James "Sonny" McCullough.

Currently, the county's 23 municipalities do the tax assessing and collecting on their own.

"It is so important that we have the ability to properly assess every business and every home so that people are not overtaxed or undertaxed," McCullough told the Townsquare News Network.

The committee is looking at countywide systems elsewhere — from Monmouth and Gloucester counties to areas in Arizona and Florida — to determine what could work best for Atlantic County.

"It is our hope that we'll make a recommendation before the end of the year," McCullough said, noting casinos will have to be part of the equation even though they are currently following a PILOT (payments made in lieu of taxes) law approved in 2016.

The county saw more than 9,100 tax appeals in 2016 — a 20 percent jump since 2010. Appeals surpassed 12,000 in 2012, approached 14,000 in 2013 and topped 10,000 in 2015, according to the Atlantic County Board of Taxation.

McCullough said his committee is also looking at the possibility of changing the timeline for revaluations and appeals in the county. The appeal deadline is April and decisions are made after "municipalities' budgets are cut."

"We want to change the calendar so each municipality knows the consequence of a tax appeal when they're putting their budget together, not after the budget's made," he said.

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