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Re: The NJPP Report on Tax Abatements in JC
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Quote:

Crazy_Chester wrote:
"Consider this example. In 1999, the Jersey City City Council
granted Sugar House Urban Renewal Company a 20-year tax abatement to convert the 136-year-old American Sugar Refining Company warehouse into approximately 65 market-rate condominiums. Under the terms of the abatement agreement, Sugar House Urban Renewal Company agreed to pay 15 percent of its annual revenue, an administrative fee of 2 percent of the previous year?s revenue to the city?s general fund and a one-time $1,000 fee for each condominium it built for recreation or anothermunicipal public service. The units, which range in size from 1,000 to 2,000 square feet, are advertised as selling for between $600,000 and $1.3million and had a median sale price of $800,000.3 Despite the hefty price tags, Sugar House condominium owners pay only a fraction of the taxes paid by their neighbors with properties that are not abated. In 2007, all of Sugar House?s condominium owners paid a total of $695,477 to Jersey City ($39,066 in taxes and $656,411 in payments in lieu of taxes or PILOTs). Had they paid conventional taxes, the owners would have paid $1,627,108 or $931,631 more than they did. The city would
have received $746,845, according to information compiled
using online data. The county, which received 5 percent of the PILOT,would have received $413,741. The Jersey City School District, which got nothing from the Sugar House agreement,would have received $455,965. An additional $10,556 would have been paid to the county?s open space fund."

The average Sugar House condo tax bill for 2007 was $10,700. Assuming the average unit was valued at $800,000 (the median should be close to the average), then the typical Sugar House condo owner is paying about 1.3% in property taxes to Jersey City. Is that really "a fraction" of what their neighbors are paying?

Without the abatement, this analysis states that the typical bill would have increased to $25,000, or 3%, annually. Do you know what you would have in place of condos without an abatement for the Sugar House? An empty sugar refining warehouse.

From what I understand, the way tax abatements work is the owner pays a reduced tax rate to the municipality. The original abatement law had all of the payments going direct to city coffers, cutting out the school district and county. After many complaints, centered around Jersey City?s overuse of abatements, which put a heavier county burden on surrounding towns, the law was changed to give the county a portion of the abated rate. It is lower then they would have gotten with regular property tax but better than zero. The school district is still cut out. This worked for the city in a few ways, there were up front payments, and at least in the beginning, the city would usually see more revenue then if they taxed the property at the normal rate. Most of the abated properties also have protections built in, so PILOTS don?t go up or go up in predictable increments.
As for the Sugar house, if they had not received abatements there would still be condos there, abet with cheaper amenities and the developer would have made a few million less.

I am a homeowner in one of the ?ghetto? areas of JC. I pay approximately 6% of the $132,000 rated value of my home in city, county and school taxes. So paying 1.3% of the value of a new construction ?luxury ? condo is extremely out of line with what the average homeowner in the city is paying, and it is being done on the backs of the people living in just about every area of JC except the waterfront.

Abatements have their place and can be an important tool for a city to use. But they should be a tool for those who are willing to gamble on an area that needs development and where the builder is taking a risk beyond a systemic economic risk. There has been no need for abatements in downtown for almost 20 years. It is however a cash cow for politicians running for office, and keeps wealthier new residents from paying too much attention to corruption, waste and the uselessness of the school system. Bump those taxes up a 2 or 3 thousand dollars a month and suddenly you might have a whole new group of people looking to clean up the city, with the resources to make life very uncomfortable for our entrenched political class.

Posted on: 2009/8/17 19:16
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Re: New Jersey Policy Perspective Report on Tax Abatements in Jersey City
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Quote:

Crazy_Chester wrote:
Sugar House opened for occupancy in June 2001. So, while I understand your point, I don't think it was so long ago that conventional taxes doubled in the meantime.

http://www.njcu.edu/Programs/jchistor ... s/S_Pages/Sugar_House.htm

I'm sure Yvonne will be along soon enough to clear it all up for us.


Wow, seems like it's been open for much longer than that for some reason. Thanks for finding that link.

Posted on: 2009/8/17 18:01
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Re: New Jersey Policy Perspective Report on Tax Abatements in Jersey City
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Sugar House opened for occupancy in June 2001. So, while I understand your point, I don't think it was so long ago that conventional taxes doubled in the meantime.

http://www.njcu.edu/Programs/jchistor ... s/S_Pages/Sugar_House.htm

I'm sure Yvonne will be along soon enough to clear it all up for us.

Posted on: 2009/8/17 17:53
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Re: New Jersey Policy Perspective Report on Tax Abatements in Jersey City
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I'm not casting aspersions on your political view of abatements, just so you know. Just trying to work out the mechanics. I feel like I need abatements explained to me at least 1x a year.

IIRC, Sugar House has been up and running far longer than many other gold-standard luxury properties, which I think can account for the statistics in the article, i.e. the fixed-abatement paying property owner who bought, say 15 years ago when the property opened (i'm totally guessing), has avoided every annual property tax increase over the course of those last 15 years.

So while the abatement might have been roughly on par with the traditional taxes in the year of purchase when Sugar House first opened, it has not increased gradually over time. Add into that the mechanics of turnover and sales and market fluxuations and tax appeals, etc, and I think it makes the prospect of imagining Sugar House without ever having had any abatements a difficult figure to calculate.

DanL, help!

Posted on: 2009/8/17 17:45
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Re: New Jersey Policy Perspective Report on Tax Abatements in Jersey City
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I readily admit that I am not familiar with how abatements work for developers of new, unoccupied, or hardly occupied projects such as Crystal Point or Trump. But I am basically familiar with how they work for the homebuyer.

This article makes it seem like the Sugar House residents are paying half the property tax percentage that a non-abated property owner would pay. I think this is incorrect. The typical abated property around here costs about 1.6% of the selling price in property taxes. Is that not close to what non-abated properties pay? Would Sugar House residents really be paying over 3% annually in conventional taxes?

I know the Sugar House is a unique standout, but when I refer to similar condos, I mean in price. if the average Sugar House owner had a tax bill of $10,700 (as given in the article), this would equate to an average selling price of about $670,000. This may be a little on the low side, but still should be pretty close.

I am not defending all abatements and I am not sure that they are still needed and I agree that developers need to assume some market risk and I know that the schools get screwed under this system and all of that stuff. But there seems to be a notion that residents (not developers) of abated properties are getting some kind of half-price deal, which they are not. They are getting "insurance", yes, but not a bargain.

I am happy to be corrected on any of the above, by the way.

Posted on: 2009/8/17 17:36
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Re: New Jersey Policy Perspective Report on Tax Abatements in Jersey City
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Crazy_Chester wrote:
My understanding may be off, but not way off. Abatements are not tax reductions. The folks at Sugar House paid an average of $10,700 per unit in 2007. That seems to be the norm for similar condos. Probably about 1.5%. Calling abatements insurance is fair, but the Sugar House isn't that old that the residents locked in some bargain rate years ago.

The article states that with conventional taxes, they would have paid twice what they did and that Jersey City missed out on hundreds of thousands of dollars. I don't know how they calculate that because I am pretty sure that the JC property tax rate is not around 3%. If it was, downtown Jersey City would be a ghost town.


Developers wouldn't fight for abatements if all they did was change who the property taxes were paid to. Most condo buyers don't tend to even notice, let alone care, whether their property taxes go to the city, the county, the schools, or wherever. Abatements are fought for precisely because of the stability they offer, and the security against being raised the way non-abated property taxes are.

From my own experience with the property, I would consider the Sugar House one of if not the most desirable condo property in JC. They did a beautiful job, and the two units I've been in are stunning. I don't think the Sugar House is representative of your average downtown JC condo.

Can somebody who knows better than either Chester or I clarify the whole "reduction" issue, which in itself is sort of a misnomer, given that abatements are typically only on "new" homes that had no previous residential property taxes from which to reduce in the first place.

Posted on: 2009/8/17 16:44
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Re: New Jersey Policy Perspective Report on Tax Abatements in Jersey City
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My understanding may be off, but not way off. Abatements are not tax reductions. The folks at Sugar House paid an average of $10,700 per unit in 2007. That seems to be the norm for similar condos. Probably about 1.5%. Calling abatements insurance is fair, but the Sugar House isn't that old that the residents locked in some bargain rate years ago.

The article states that with conventional taxes, they would have paid twice what they did and that Jersey City missed out on hundreds of thousands of dollars. I don't know how they calculate that because I am pretty sure that the JC property tax rate is not around 3%. If it was, downtown Jersey City would be a ghost town.

Posted on: 2009/8/17 16:32
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Re: New Jersey Policy Perspective Report on Tax Abatements in Jersey City
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Crazy_Chester wrote:

I think the math is screwy here. Abatements don't result in tax reductions. They result in the money going directly to the city, the benefits of which can surely be debated. According to the above, if "conventional taxes" were paid by Sugar House residents in 2007, the average tax bill would have been over $25,000. WTF? I think you'd then have an empty building and no money going anywhere.


Your understanding is way off, hopefully my understanding is not. Somebody will I'm sure jump in to correct me if it is.

Abatements both result in the money going directly to the city and in a locked-in property tax amount (in most cases) tied to a percentage of purchase price for a set amount of years. So as the city raises taxes annually across the board on traditional taxpayers, abatements don't get increased, except when it's written into the abatement (a lot of them up the percentage after X number of years, for example).

So an abatement is a way of insuring that, if there is a massive tax hike, abatement-payers don't get affected. It's like insurance on your property taxes.

Posted on: 2009/8/17 15:37
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Re: New Jersey Policy Perspective Report on Tax Abatements in Jersey City
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"For example, Sugar House, a 65-unit condominium building located 174 Washington St., received a 20-year tax abatement from Jersey City in 1999. In 2007, the owners of the building paid a total of $695,477 to Jersey City.

But if they had paid conventional taxes, they would have paid more than twice that -- $1,627,108. This city would have collected $746,845, the county $413,741 and the Jersey City School District $455,965, according to the report."

I think the math is screwy here. Abatements don't result in tax reductions. They result in the money going directly to the city, the benefits of which can surely be debated. According to the above, if "conventional taxes" were paid by Sugar House residents in 2007, the average tax bill would have been over $25,000. WTF? I think you'd then have an empty building and no money going anywhere.

Posted on: 2009/8/17 15:28
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Jersey City's Tax Abatement Policy Scrutinized
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Watchdog group blasts Jersey City for tax abatement 'giveaways'

as posted on "The Jersey Journal,"
Sunday August 16, 2009, 2:18 p.m.

Jersey City's liberal use of tax abatements has robbed the city, county and school district of revenue and has saddled residents not living in tax-abated properties with an unfair financial burden, according to a New Jersey watchdog group.

"We're really concerned about the precedent Jersey City is setting," said Naomi Mueller Bressler, co-author of the report released by the New Jersey Policy Perspective last month.

Initially used to give developers an incentive to build in hard-pressed areas, these "tax giveaways" are now handed to "any or all developers," Bressler added.

City officials have traditionally argued abatements are good for the city since the municipality keeps 95 percent of the money, as opposed to a more even split with the county and schools under the rules of conventional taxation. But this report argues the city is also getting hosed in tax abatement deals.

For example, Sugar House, a 65-unit condominium building located 174 Washington St., received a 20-year tax abatement from Jersey City in 1999. In 2007, the owners of the building paid a total of $695,477 to Jersey City.

But if they had paid conventional taxes, they would have paid more than twice that -- $1,627,108. This city would have collected $746,845, the county $413,741 and the Jersey City School District $455,965, according to the report.

And when county and state officials calculate how much money city residents have to kick in to pay for county services and to support local schools, tax-abated property owners aren't included -- putting an additional burden on conventional taxpayers, the reports argues.

There are currently 134 tax-abated properties in Jersey City and 31 more under construction. But with the economy in the dumps, several developers have re-negotiated even sweeter deals with the city, including the CANCO Lofts on Dey Street and Crystal Point, Downtown on Second Street. The city is also considering changing the terms of its 20-year abatement agreement with the owners of 77 Hudson.

The report argues that politicians become addicted to abatements because "pre-payments" are used to fill budget holes and developers contribute heavily to political campaigns.

The report concedes tax abatements, most of which last 15 to 30 years, can help spur development in parts of the city beyond the waterfront, including Journal Square.

Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy -- who campaigned against tax abatements when he first ran for mayor but has become an ardent supporter -- said the watchdog group has blinders on.

"It is astonishing that this report -- which provides no empirical data or quantitative analysis -- does not recognize Jersey City as a model for the judicious use of tax abatements which have dramatically increased property values, led to the creation of thousands of units of affordable housing and thousands of construction and permanent jobs, as well as increased investment and funds into our city coffers," he said in a statement.

"Indeed, Jersey City has been referred to in national publications as a model for urban redevelopment and advancement," he added.

The report makes several recommendations, including:
* Only grant abatements in truly blighted areas
* Open to process of granting abatements to the public
* Limit the percentage of a municipality's revenue that can come from tax abatements so that municipalities don't overly rely on this money to balance budgets
* Limiting abatements to 10 years
* Bar elected officials from granting abatements to developers who have contributed to their campaigns
* Give county and school districts a greater share of the tax-abatement money.

The council is currently considering a redeveloper pay-to-play ordinance that would bar campaign contributions from a developer to local officials if that developer is negotiating to be designated the builder of a project in the city.

-- Amy Sara Clark

Posted on: 2009/8/16 19:30
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Re: Study finds tax abatements for developers leave property owners paying more taxes
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The study was an excellent and concise but objective explanation of a very murky situation.

Thank you to the authors!

Posted on: 2009/7/16 16:53
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Study finds tax abatements for developers leave property owners paying more taxes
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Posted on: 2009/7/16 15:19
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Re: The NJPP Report on Tax Abatements in JC
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Quote:

jocjo wrote:
I'm in a Condo and having just received my quarterly bill I can provide my % breakdown of taxes.
(Please note this is based on the "Net Taxable Value" which is not = to my purchase price or to what the real assessed value of the property would be)

Description Rate
County Tax 1.470%
County Open Space Tax .040%
District School Tax 1.507%
Local School Tax .126%
Municipal Purpose Tax 2.858%
TOTAL 6.001%

I have to assume that my tax rate is higher in order to make up for the loss of county and school revenue due to abatements.

I have heard talk of a revaluation so that assessed values would be more in line with reality which would lower the tax rate but I don't assume that it would lower my actual payment, or would it?


6% rate of 30% market assesed property value is more along a 1.8% rate.

According to the article, the state&fed pick up the majority of the school district's costs. I'm guessing without abatements, which actually bring in more money to the city than regular property tax since its not shared with the county, your tax rate would probably be even higher.

The government has a high budget but at the same time a lot of property in jersey city brings in low amount of taxes. Downtown revenues most likely subsidize services in the rest of the town, not the other way around. The misplaced abatement frustration should more likely focus on improving the local neighborhood you live in while at the same time demanding more efficient and less wasteful government budgets, so that city hall doesn't have to give out abatements in order to close their budget gaps.

On a side note - a lot of abated properties were purchased at higher market prices and the owners are locked in at those tax rates. Perhaps we should be praising Healy & Co on locking in higher revenues and their excellent market-timing of the real estate bubble instead???? [sarcasm]

Posted on: 2009/7/16 3:43
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Re: The NJPP Report on Tax Abatements in JC
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and hopefully the lack of community involvement will change as the burden of real estate taxes are increasingly shifted to the taxpayers from the developers. i do not think that the city council - due to political and personal financial reasons - would abandon the politics of abatements. the final para of the report indicates more headaches to come "As this report was written, the country was undergoing the most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression. Many firms, including those on Wall Street, are looking to cut costs. This makes Jersey City, with its relatively low real estate costs, even more attractive. In addition, Jersey City has the advantage of access to a high-caliber work force, prime location and first-rate transportation system. Rather than continuing a policy that awards abatements to developers simply because they ask,municipalities should carefully consider whether the abatement will benefit not only the city but also the county and local schools. After all, their taxpayers bear the responsibility for all." I would not be surprised that our misguided city council will continue to offer abatements to major developers building in JC. Once access to credit becomes easier for large scale commercial developers, more condos and offices will be built on the waterfront. The fact is that it is easier to get from Wall Street to JC than to LIC. Squandering away the strategic advantage of JC for peanuts does not take a lot of brains (or legal residence in the city.) I'm just sayin'.... Quote:
Yvonne wrote: One of the comments this report made, is the lack of involvement by the public. By the time an abatement is ready for the council vote, there has been no public involvement. Yvonne

Posted on: 2009/7/16 0:10
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Re: The NJPP Report on Tax Abatements in JC
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One of the comments this report made, is the lack of involvement by the public. By the time an abatement is ready for the council vote, there has been no public involvement.
Yvonne

Posted on: 2009/7/15 22:38
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Re: The NJPP Report on Tax Abatements in JC
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JadedJC wrote:
To me, this pretty much says it all:
6. Many of the developers who receive abatements make
political contributions to the officials who granted those
abatements


Could this be a good enough reason towards a recall of Healy and At Large Members.

Posted on: 2009/7/15 22:31
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Re: The NJPP Report on Tax Abatements in JC
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Actually, to me, that does sound like a fraction of what neighbors pay. I'm not in Paulus Hook, but am in Harsimus Cove.

I'm in a Condo and having just received my quarterly bill I can provide my % breakdown of taxes.
(Please note this is based on the "Net Taxable Value" which is not = to my purchase price or to what the real assessed value of the property would be)

Description Rate
County Tax 1.470%
County Open Space Tax .040%
District School Tax 1.507%
Local School Tax .126%
Municipal Purpose Tax 2.858%
TOTAL 6.001%

I have to assume that my tax rate is higher in order to make up for the loss of county and school revenue due to abatements. (don't get me started on civil mismanagement and failed governance, one issue at a time)

I have heard talk of a revaluation so that assessed values would be more in line with reality which would lower the tax rate but I don't assume that it would lower my actual payment, or would it?

If I am being unduly penalized by the municipality is there a legal recourse?

Posted on: 2009/7/15 21:22
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Re: The NJPP Report on Tax Abatements in JC
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"Consider this example. In 1999, the Jersey City City Council
granted Sugar House Urban Renewal Company a 20-year tax abatement to convert the 136-year-old American Sugar Refining Company warehouse into approximately 65 market-rate condominiums. Under the terms of the abatement agreement, Sugar House Urban Renewal Company agreed to pay 15 percent of its annual revenue, an administrative fee of 2 percent of the previous year?s revenue to the city?s general fund and a one-time $1,000 fee for each condominium it built for recreation or anothermunicipal public service. The units, which range in size from 1,000 to 2,000 square feet, are advertised as selling for between $600,000 and $1.3million and had a median sale price of $800,000.3 Despite the hefty price tags, Sugar House condominium owners pay only a fraction of the taxes paid by their neighbors with properties that are not abated. In 2007, all of Sugar House?s condominium owners paid a total of $695,477 to Jersey City ($39,066 in taxes and $656,411 in payments in lieu of taxes or PILOTs). Had they paid conventional taxes, the owners would have paid $1,627,108 or $931,631 more than they did. The city would
have received $746,845, according to information compiled
using online data. The county, which received 5 percent of the PILOT,would have received $413,741. The Jersey City School District, which got nothing from the Sugar House agreement,would have received $455,965. An additional $10,556 would have been paid to the county?s open space fund."

The average Sugar House condo tax bill for 2007 was $10,700. Assuming the average unit was valued at $800,000 (the median should be close to the average), then the typical Sugar House condo owner is paying about 1.3% in property taxes to Jersey City. Is that really "a fraction" of what their neighbors are paying?

Without the abatement, this analysis states that the typical bill would have increased to $25,000, or 3%, annually. Do you know what you would have in place of condos without an abatement for the Sugar House? An empty sugar refining warehouse.

Posted on: 2009/7/15 21:06
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Re: The NJPP Report on Tax Abatements in JC
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FYI the group who wrote this report has a defined political position. They are described elsewhere on the internet as a liberal think tank/advocacy group. I dont know if this brings any bias into their assessment or not. I havent read this report yet, but look forward to it.

Posted on: 2009/7/15 21:01
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Re: The NJPP Report on Tax Abatements in JC
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The report is excellent; however, it also repeats an argument that has been going on for a while. Abatements were need originally to jump start the waterfront. That's not true. In the 1980's when Gerry McCann was mayor, Colgate had a large plant on the waterfront. Colgate announced it would close its factory because the property on the waterfron was too valuable for a plant. McCann agreeded which caused a blacklash with working class people who saw their jobs disappear. Anthony Cucci won. Then Reval happened taxes went up and the State of NJ told Anothy Cucci to raise an additional $20 million for the Board of Ed because McCann underfunded the BOE. Cucci asked the developers to prepay their taxes and the developers asked for an abatement. Both Councilmen O'Dea and Fricchone were against awarding an abatement figuring it would start a trend. How right they were.

Posted on: 2009/7/15 20:29
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Re: The NJPP Report on Tax Abatements in JC
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To me, this pretty much says it all:
6. Many of the developers who receive abatements make
political contributions to the officials who granted those
abatements

Posted on: 2009/7/15 19:45
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Re: The NJPP Report on Tax Abatements in JC
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Substituting "Blight" for an "Area in Need of Re-Development" is simply an exercise in semantics. If the goal of removing blight is to improve an area how has that benefitted Jersey City? The waterfront area which comprises 90% of what was declared as blighted is a measure then Jersey City has failed miserably. At today's hearing several trade union members expressed support of the abatement process but declared moving out of Jersey City was their goal once they obtained full union status. Is that because Jersey City's "Quality of Life" has diminished as a result of the improvement they have wrought? More traffic, loss of schools, less policing, higher density...those who live here know the deal. For those of us who live here day to day and suffer the fools who screw us royally it is time to cut the entrenched moronic umbilical cord loose.

Posted on: 2009/7/15 19:25
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Re: The NJPP Report on Tax Abatements in JC
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Carolyn,

Are you the co-author of the report? What a wonderful piece of information this is. Digging into anything related to how city government works can be extremely frustrating, particularly anything fiscal. Outstanding job!! Thank you.

The lack of oversight and audit over abatements is glaring, isn't it? Again, the mayor, et al seem to be able to do whatever they please in the plain light of day and obfuscate the truth, knowing full well that apathy will save them in the end.

Posted on: 2009/7/15 19:00
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Re: The NJPP Report on Tax Abatements in JC
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The first half of the second sentence of the report reads"

Quote:
"Intended for rundown or otherwise unattractive areas"


Does this sound like Crystal Point, Trump, the "a", the under-construction Monaco, every building in Newport, 77 Hudson, etc., etc.?

Posted on: 2009/7/15 18:50
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Re: The NJPP Report on Tax Abatements in JC
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Some very interesting information, if only Gaughan, Vega, Brennan, Flood, Lopez, Sottolano, would download and read.

But then they would need to be competent enough to use a computer and go online. None of them have seen an abatement they did not like.

How does such incompetence continue to get elected.

Posted on: 2009/7/15 18:43
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Re: The NJPP Report on Tax Abatements in JC
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Thanks for posting this. A very interesting read.

Posted on: 2009/7/15 18:28
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New Jersey Policy Perspective Report on Tax Abatements in Jersey City
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All That Glitters Isn't Gold
Property Tax Abatements in Jersey City

http://njpp.org/rpt_glitters.html

Posted on: 2009/7/15 17:54

Edited by Webmaster on 2009/7/16 0:19:26
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