Monday, November 23, 2015

League of Municipalities Report - payments in lieu of taxes

I was at a well attended session on PILOTs, redevelopment and related recent court rulings.  Here are some of the highlights:
  • PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes) are a financial arrangement that encourage development in distressed areas for projects that otherwise would not happen
  • they give negotiating leverage to cities for jobs, minority contracts and affordable housing
  • there are long term PILOTs (up to 30 years) and 5 year PILOTS.  Parameters are set by state law (40A:20-1 and 40A: 21for those who want to go to the source)
  • Every PILOT is effectuated by a financial agreement that must be approved by the governing body of the municipality.  It must give reasons for the PILOT and method of payment.
  • Payment is calculated by one of two methods
    • a percentage of the project cost
    • a percentage of the annual gross revenues  (Sleepy Hollow/South Ave Gateway agreement proposes this method)
  • Project construction can only begin when the agreement is signed by all parties
  • each member of the panel of experts stated that public schools are not shortchanged under a PILOT.  School board members should know this - every penny of the school district approved annual budget is collected by the city and paid to the Board of Education.  If the city doesn't collect enough taxes to cover all expenses, state law requires that the BOE gets paid first.  Any shortfall is the city's problem. 
PILOTs are commonly used by cities in New Jersey.  Examples were given for the following towns:
  • Carteret
  • Asbury Park
  • Elizabeth
  • Jersey City (now that the waterfront is built up, PILOTs are being targeted for other sections of the city)
  • Newton
  • this is not meant to be an all inclusive list, just examples
Why does Plainfield need to use PILOT agreements?  If you drive along the Raritan Valley rail line, you will see development in places like Fanwood, Garwood, Cranford, Dunellen and Somerville.  In Cranford, for example, the rents are high enough to cover the developers costs such as construction and financing.  In Plainfield the rental market is lower priced, leaving a financing gap.  The PILOT fills the gap, allowing a project to happen.  As distressed areas of Plainfield develop and rents increase, the need for PILOTs and other tax breaks decreases and goes away - as is happening in Jersey City.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Post Election Thank You

I am very grateful to the many people who supported my re-election campaign.  Being a Councilman has its ups and downs but the volunteers and donors who were a part of our team are a main reason I want to continue on the City Council.  I have not been near a computer since Wednesday and there are so many acknowledgements to make.

Special thanks go to Lois who worked her vast network to get out our vote.  Adrian Mapp and Rebecca Williams once again were instrumental in our success.  Barry Goode campaigned harder than anyone I have ever seen in Plainfield, both in the primary and general elections.  I look forward to our working together on the Council.

Work obligations limited my door to door campaign and I had to depend on others more than ever, namely:
Dan Damon
Nat Singleton
Bob Bolmer
Mike Pyne
Mari Bonini
Anthony Howard
Carol Bicket (rumor is she left town but I don't think so)
Peter and Libby Price
Jeanette Criscone
Jim Spear
Belinda Smiley
Inez Durham
Mary Burgwinkle (among many roles, she's treasurer for Storch-Goode)
Greg Haworth
Bob Gregory
Ron Scott Bey
Charlie Weltner
Carmencita Pile
and many others

There is new hope for progress in Plainfield and I will do my utmost to help make it happen.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Support the Storch Goode team for City Council

Election day offers a real choice for City Council candidates.  Barry Good and I represent the possibility of local government working together for progress in Plainfield.  For too many years, the Council - Mayor relationship has held our city back.  I know - from frustrating, painful first hand experience.  A vote for Barry Good in the 1st and 4th wards and for me in the 2nd ward indicates that you want progress.  The option, our opponents, do not have a plan.  They merely state generalities. 

This election matters for anyone concerned about local affairs.  No - there is no mayoral, gubernatorial or presidential election.  But the fate of better city services and development in Plainfield is at stake.  That means your property taxes and your desire for a more diverse and vibrant downtown.

Barry and I are in column B on the Democratic ticket.  We need your support on November 3.  The polls open at 6 AM and close at 8 PM.