Taxes were a major focus at the Feb. 19 meeting of the Bayonne City Council. In addition to adopting an ordinance approving the lease for a commuter ferry in the city, the council introduced ordinances to grant tax abatements to two developers.
A zoning ordinance was also introduced that would establish a special hospital district encompassing Bayonne Medical Center.
At the meeting, the council introduced three different ordinances that granted tax abatements to two development companies for their residential developments in Bayonne.
City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski gave more details regarding the terms of the agreements after prompts from a controversial former candidate for city council, Peter Franco.
A tax abatement is when the city temporarily replaces taxes for a property in favor of what is commonly called a “payment in lieu of taxes” (PILOT). The property owner pays a negotiated fixed amount yearly to the municipality, but the payments do not contribute to school or county taxes, and for that reason, are sometimes controversial.
The terms of all three tax abatements run for 25 years.
The first tax abatement is for Avenue E Urban Renewal, LLC for its 306-322 Avenue E property.
According to Ashe-Nadrowski, the residential building will house 67 units and will provide a ratio of 1:1 parking spots to residential units.
The second abatement will also be for Avenue E Urban Renewal for the residential development at 317 Avenue E. Ashe-Nadrowski said that this development consisted of 95 units with 105 parking spots and 50 bicycle stalls.
The two residential developments are part of the same project. The twin developments sit across the street from each other at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Syriac Catholic Cathedral. Demolition of the century-old church began earlier in the year.
The other developer receiving a tax abatement is 23rd Street Urban Renewal, LLC for the property at East 22nd Street and State Highway Route 440. Also known as 43-47 Mechanic Street, the development is a commercial self-storage facility.
In return, the developers will make various improvements to the city.
Avenue E Urban Renewal will contribute $600,000, consisting of $300,000 for each tax abatement, toward redoing nearby pedestrian walkways.
23rd Street Urban Renewal will build streets in Bayonne and make some improvements to a nearby park.
According to Ashe-Nadrowski, 23rd Street and 24th Street will no longer be dead-end streets. The city’s first mosque, which sparked controversy and opposition, is finally being constructed on one of those dead end blocks, 24th Street.
Councilman Gary La Pelusa was the only member of the city council to vote against the abatements.
Property tax revaluation numbers in question
In other tax news, the numbers in the recent property tax revaluation were another topic of discussion at the meeting.
The purpose of the revaluation is to bring fairness and equity to how properties are assessed and ultimately taxed, Mayor Davis said, maintaining that each property is now assessed at its true market value.
In 2018, the City of Bayonne was ordered to conduct a reval by the Hudson County Board of Taxation. According to the mayor, Bayonne has not undergone a reval since 1991.
Peter Franco referenced previous reporting by the Bayonne Community News stating that 60 percent of taxpayers would see a decrease in their taxes as a result of the revaluation.
During the meeting, Ashe-Nadrowski said that 60 percent of taxpayers will see a decrease in their taxes or their taxes will stay the same.
The tax reval numbers in the Bayonne Community News were supported by Mayor James Davis’s Feb. 8 statement on the tax reval results on social media, which said that 60 percent of taxpayers will see a decrease, with the word decrease written in capital letters. Davis also said in the statement that 5 percent of taxpayers will see their taxes stay relatively flat.
After the meeting, Law Director John Coffey sought to clarify the situation, saying that the mayor’s statement was correct and based on raw data available at that time.
Coffey said that most taxpayers experiencing high increases as result of the tax revaluation are commercial property owners.
Letters with the results of the reval are being sent to taxpayers in stages. Appraisal Systems, Inc, the company that conducted the tax revaluation, is currently holding informal hearings with property owners who challenge their new assessments.
Because of this, among other variables, Coffey said the final data will differ from the Feb. 8 numbers initially posted by Mayor Davis.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Dan Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.