Monday, August 03, 2009

More Tax Abatement Questions

As the discussion on tax abatements for The Monarch unfolds, it seems there are more elephants in the room than Ringling Bros. has under the big tent.

In an attempt to learn more about tax abatements, I went Googling and found out that just last month the New Jersey Policy Perspective issued a report that detailed nine problems with the state's long-term tax abatement law. The report, titled "All That Glitters Isn't Gold," was in turn the subject of an article by New Jersey Newsroom, an online outlet created mostly by former Star-Ledger employees. (May I just say the article was very informative and probably would not have been assigned by editors of the languishing print media.)

Soon I was looking at the state law itself, NJSA 40A:21-1 et seq., the subject of another fine online article.

Digesting all this before Monday's agenda session is a tall order, but it does seem that most of these arrangements are worked out at the inception of a project, not in the midst of one. And it appears that not only municipal taxes may be exempt, but also county and school taxes. So the commenter who worked out the figures based on the overall tax rate now may have the definitive figures:

"You asked for some help with your math, so here is my take on the proposed Monarch property taxes. Please note that the current tax rate is $5.979 per hundred. Land: $1900 + Condo $69000 = $70,900 total assessed value X .05979 = $4239.11 in taxes X 40% = $1695.64 proposed/yr."

That would put the difference in taxes paid for 63 condos from $267,063.93 to $160,238.61.

The City Council may call upon Tax Assessor Tracy Bennett to discuss the process Monday. But Bennett will not be responsible for whatever deal is worked out. Perhaps the developer needs to speak on the need and other city officials must explain the rationale.

There has never been a general analysis of giveaways on other projects and maybe there never will be. Local fiscal analysis has been lacking for some time, perhaps due to the turnover in finance directors and chief financial officers. Supposedly the ultimate watchdog on municipal fiscal responsibility is the Department of Community Affairs and the Local Finance Board, but now that DCA Commissioner Joe Doria has stepped down in the midst of widespread corruption charges, is the watchdog all bark and no bite?

The questions are hard, but answers must still be sought.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please send your research to Councilman Burney and Mayor Robinson-Briggs. They seem to have selective reading at times, so they may not have read these pieces. Again I ask why doesn't the developer lower the prices of the condos? He will still make a profit. I am also concerned about the language of the ordinance, which clearly shows that the agreement is between the city and the developer, P & F or P & L, whichever one is the developer. And what is the commercial space? There is no commercial space so why does the ordinance say that? Is it possible that the developer and the city could do a switcheroo and use some of the senior space to have a commercial business? Why does the council keep allowing such sloppiness to come before it? Plainfield is a laughing stock in terms of developers because the mayor and the assemblyman who chairs the housing and local government committee can't seem to get it right. Council president Burney derides his colleagues as naysayers even in the face of logic. I sense a change in the air.

10:41 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Per Anonymous at 10:41--- You sense change in the air?? What Plainfield do you live in ? The Boss ( Jerry ),his pet ( The Mayor ) and the City Council allow this pathetic show that is development in Plainfield to exist and go on.Worse --- They are trying to encourage it. Until this city is cleaned up NO ONE will want to buy a condo or build more condos here. Why would I, as a developer, want to drop a couple million on a development in Plainfield when right down the road on any one of the average streets you have buildings with roofs falling in, facades crumbling, broken windows and graffiti that is years old ?? Who is fooling who? Simple logic.. 2 homes for sale, 1 for sale in a neighbor hood with manicured lawns, landscaping and friendly people milling about and the other in a decaying urban area...where are you going to buy ???? The city would like us to believe that the fact this city looks like the bottom of a toliet bowl won't does. Walk up to the owners of the buildings by the train station -- CLEAN IT UP..or we are condemning them and taking them. That's it .. SIMPLE. Yes, legal processes must be done, BUT START DOING IT !! I have never seen a city where everyone whines and cries.."Oh woe is us", yet won't do anything about it. The City of Plainfield HAS THE POWER AND THE AUTHORITY to change the way this city looks. THEY CHOOSE NOT TO. For whatever reason they like to pretend and portray themselves as the victims instead of the leaders. Sue the landlords, sue the management companies, sue the property owners who don't take care of the property properly and aesthetically beneficial to this city. Thousands of cities across the United State do this as a regular practice. No hand wringing, no shrugging of the shoulders, no tear in the corner of the eyes wondering what to do. They use the Supreme Court backed process of proper zoning and enforcement of laws to force property owners to maintain and care for the property. Occupied or not. End of subject. Let the Monarch go down the tubes. Zone it so no rentals are allowed and let them go bankrupt. For a change, we will have an abandoned piece of property that actually looks good instead of crappy for a few years. It's sad this city actually had to stop the PMUA from slapping people with fines for leaving garbage cans out when there were issues like roofs falling in on buildings downtown. Where are the priorities of this city ??? Good bye Monarch...maybe you going under is exactly what this city needs to have happen to open their eyes to the pathetic state of affairs of this city. LEADERS MAKE THINGS HAPPEN...Do we have leaders in Plainfield or NOT ???? Jerry??? Pet Sharon ?? Comments ???? Sorry for venting Bernice, but someone has got to make these people listen.

7:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A classic example of how this town is run is by the shambles of Watchung Ave construction. DETOUR signs [which they do sell in stores] are no where to be found. Not even a warning of an "On or About .." sign to give some heads up. And talk to North Plainfield on rerouting traffic safely. No way. Oh the locals may cope, but any out of towners will definately avoid Plainfield after being caught up once in the one way traffic maze with no way out.

8:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 7:02 am - You can vent all you want. It is truth and no one seems to notice or care that this city has a low class attitude. We are letting it go to ruin by complaining and doing nothing about it. Are you, Plainfielders, going to vote the same way you always have. If so, you cannot expect that anything will change. Get educated, be smart and think about what you want this city to be. And then vote intelligently, which means, when someone asks you why you voted for a certain person, the answer is NOT, because I always do, or I don't know, or I THINK......

The potholes in the streets are being filled - sloppily. So, that means more money to fix it. Talk about inefficiency.

This city needs strong leadership. I believe the council can do it, they just have to come together. I hope that they put aside political agendas and views and work together. For the first time in a long time we have a smart council who can make things happen. I beg them, come together a take the reins of this city. The administration obviously cannot - do your fudiciary duty.

8:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You are one great reporter. I love the way you put your nose to the grindstone, and come up with information. I know that this takes time and effort. Thank you.

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The city is in a physical state of decay due to the lack of care by the mayor and her cabinet. The Dir. of Public Works doesn't live in town so what does she care? She doesn't drive west of city hall and she is impossible to reach. The city administrator, the finance director (the one proposed as well as all the past ones), the police director, NONE of these people have anything other than a financial stake in Plainfield. Each earns over $100,000 and lives in a different community. None of them calls NJ transit to demand that they clean and repaint and service the two train stations. Go to Cranford or Fanwood or Westfield or Dunellen and look at their train stations. Theirs are clean, and ours smell like a sewer. Why doesn't Wenson-Maier issue summonses for the landlords by the train station? I commute, and when I look out the train window as we approach Plainfield, I'm embarrassed. I can't believe that ANYONE voted for this regime to stay in office for another 4 years. I really just can't believe it.

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob could not have said it any better. Its funny that it appears that JG's main focus as an African American in a postion of power is more interested in keeping a brother down than providing a safe, clean community for everyone to live in. Not every African American needs subsidized housing. We own our home, put our kids through college and are ashamed of the condition of our city. Wake up Jerry!

11:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the other blogs it appears all this information will be discussed at the next council meeting. It might be a good idea to hear the details before a final decision is made.

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes Bernice... more poop. Keep up the production of poop.

Poop lovers are devouring it up. Keep serving up the poop.

11:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Poop away, Bernice. Those who do not see that you are only reporting the facts, and not your opinion are probably the ones who have kept this city in shambles because of their lack of insight into what is going on in the city. At some point, those poopers will open their mouths and then...

10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Bernice said...

To 9:35 a.m., I am taking a reader's advice and not posting the coprophiliac comments.

11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dissent can be unpleasant and it can be a distraction. Imagine that - a young man holding up a flower to a tank in China? How dare he! That was so distracting.

These inconvenient truths should not be censored just because they disagree with your view (clearly the pooper commentator does disagree with you on this subject).

Distractions are what keeps both sides on the path of reality. Mob mentality is just as bad as an indifferent administration.

7:06 AM  
Anonymous Audrey said...

@ Anonymous 7:06, excuse me, but "poop poop poop keep serving poop" is not an inconvenient truth. It's not even an opinion - it's just an antagonistic & juvenile comment. And it is unfortunate evidence of a larger national trend away from civil discourse. Most of the commenters here are thoughtful and polite even when they are in disagreement. The poop person needs to go away until he/she can make a legitimate contribution to the discussion at hand. Obviously, a thoughtful counter-argument, or - gasp! - researched evidence to the contrary of the blog post, requires a lot more effort than writing "nyah nyah poop poop."

2:34 PM  

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