An ordinance adopted by the Board of Commissioners granting a 30-year tax abatement to Urban Renewal LLC to develop 122 residential units at 1122 53 St. came under fire from residents concerned that the developers will pay lower county and school taxes, forcing other taxpayers to make up the difference.
Under the agreement adopted Wednesday, the developers, instead of paying property taxes that would be split between the county, town, and school district, would pay an annual portion of their revenue to the township.
This kind of PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement is allowed by state law and is popular in several Hudson County towns. But it is controversial, as it means the developers don’t have to pay school or county taxes. Developers may end up paying just as much to the town as they would have to all three entities, but they know in advance what they’ll be paying, rather than being subject to the fluctuations of regular property taxes. Sometimes the amount is based on their profits.
North Bergen Concerned Citizens Group member Larry Wainstein and Janice Zorovich brought their concerns over the 30-year tax abatement to the governing body.
“You’re converting commercial property into residential property,” said Wainstein.
“In total they pay less, but they pay the local community more.” – Township Administrator Chris Pianese
“This law is in place to jumpstart certain development,” said Pianese. “We collect more tax than if it was taxed conventionally. The idea from the developer’s side is they don’t pay school tax and they pay a discounted county tax. In total, they pay less but they pay the local community more.”
Painese mentioned that for the $17 million development, Urban Renewal LLC will pay $250,000 per year for the first 10 years, and another 5 percent of that to the county. For every five years after that, the increments increase to $300,000, $375,000 and max out at $400,000. There is also a safeguard in place to pay for children added to the schools.
“Why should the residents of North Bergen subsidize when you have a $17 million investment,” asked Wainstein.
Janice Zorovich also questioned the abatement by asking what will happen in case the developers sell the land. She was told by Attorney Brian Chewcaskie that the property could be sold with the abatement.
Other matters on the agenda
Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli was honored by the township for his “outstanding compassion and performance” during Hurricane Sandy. Mayor Nicholas Sacco said that Mayor Gonnelli was the first to call North Bergen to offer help. The proclamation states that he helped restore electricity to the residents of North Bergen with generators, food, jackets and clothing.
“It was a pleasure to help Mayor Sacco and the Board of Commissioners,” said Mayor Gonnelli. “Thank you for all you do for all of us.”
Everbridge, Inc. of Glendale, Calif. was awarded a contract for the amount of $15,000. The contract is from March 1 to Dec. 31 and for their satisfactory phone service during Hurricane Sandy.
An ordinance was introduced setting the salary ranges for part-time confidential aide from $20,000 to $40,000.
An ordinance was adopted setting the salary ranges for public works superintendent from $75,000 to $150,000.
The commissioners introduced an ordinance issuing $1 million in bonds, to be paid off over several years, that will pay back residents who have completed successful tax appeals.
Chairman John O’Dell was reappointed to the North Bergen Municipal Utilities Authority for a five year term that commences Feb. 1 to Jan 31, 2018.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Commissioners was rescheduled from Wednesday, Feb. 13 to Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 11 a.m.
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org