As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact residents in Bayonne, some aspects of normal life continue, although not in a normal fashion.
On April 15, the Bayonne City Council met for its first official online meeting held via TetherView. During the mostly sleepy council meeting, one item on the agenda sparked intense discussions: tax abatements.
A public hearing was held for an ordinance granting the Plattykill Manor Apartments on Avenue E a 15-year extension on the preexisting tax abatement or payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) on the property.
City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski provided additional details regarding the abatement.
Terms of the deal
Under the PILOT agreement, the Plattykill Manor Apartments will pay $230,000 in annual taxes from 2020 to 2023; $240,000 from 2023 to 2025; $275,000 from 2025 to 2030; and $315,000 from 2030 to 2035.
The 147-unit residential complex is 100 percent composed of Section 8 housing, minus the building superintendent, according to Ashe-Nadrowski.
According to Ashe-Nadrowski, the PILOT extension is being granted on the condition that the Plattykill Manor Apartments provide renovations to all the units in the building.
Per the agreement, all apartments must be renovated within 24 months of the passing of the ordinance. Twenty-five percent of the renovations must be completed after 18 months.
Plattykill Manor Apartments has agreed not to evict residents for the next three years if they can’t meet rent or lost their jobs due to COVID-19.
Platykill has also agreed to pay for its own garbage removal service and will no longer put trash cans on the curb, according to Ashe-Nadrowski. Trash will now be kept on its property and carted off privately.
Usually, the trash from the building makes a huge mess and scatters everywhere when placed on the curb, Ashe-Nadrowski said.
Ashe-Nadrowski noted that the PILOT is one of the main factors that keeps the units in the complex affordable housing units.
Mixed opinions from residents
During the public hearing, some residents questioned the need for a PILOT in this instance.
Bayonne resident Chris Stamos asked the council if it was already the responsibility of the owner to maintain the property without the enticement of tax abatements.
“I didn’t get an abatement when I made repairs on my home,” Stamos said, arguing that upkeep of the property should be a default requirement.
Ashe-Nadrowski refuted Stamos, saying he could have received an abatement for his home renovations if he had applied for it. According Ashe-Nadrowski, homeowners in Bayonne have the right to apply for five-year tax abatements if they do work on their homes.
Vocal resident and former candidate for city council Peter Franco chimed in via TetherView, largely agreeing with much of what Ashe-Nadrowski said in favor of the PILOT.
Franco echoed Ashe-Nadrowski. With 100 percent of Section 8 housing serving low-to-moderate-income families, residents need this leverage to ensure that the units stay affordable.
“If they have parameters, that’s significant,” Franco said regarding the proposed renovations. “I’ve walked through this complex, and some conditions were substandard in my opinion.”
Councilman La Pelusa opposed
Only one member on the city council was opposed to the proposed PILOT. Councilman Gary La Pelusa voiced his opposition to PILOTs and tax abatements such as this.
“I don’t think any building should have a 56-year tax incentive regardless of who lives there,” La Pelusa said. “The amount of money we are getting out of this PILOT is tremendously low.”
According to La Pelusa, the City of Bayonne should receive anywhere from $400,000 to $500,000 if the building was taxed at the same rate as other properties in Bayonne. Because of the poor terms, La Pelusa voted no.
Before casting her vote, Ashe-Nadrowski said that normally the city council incentivizes only new development, but a new law passed in recent months encourages this type of PILOT for existing structures to raise the quality of life in lower income neighborhoods.
Councilman Neil Carroll agreed with Ashe-Nadrowski, pointing to the direct impact the PILOT would have on the population currently there. These people would see the benefits of the PILOT almost immediately, and will continue to have a positive impact on the city, according to Carroll.
The entire council voted to approve the ordinance except La Pelusa. The next council meeting will be on May 13 via TetherView. For more information, visit the city’s website at bayonnenj.org.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.