That 245,000 square foot facility now sprawls over the old Conrail Railyards in Greenville. Approved in 1989, it marked a major breakthrough for the city, as the plant meant major jobs and tax revenues for the city. But the plant became enmeshed in a suit filed by Secaucus against Jersey City in 1997. Secaucus claimed that Jersey City had given tax abatements to certain companies in violation of state regulations. Part of that case has now been settled while other cases continue forward.
TPI Associates, the firm that owns Tropicana, has agreed to pay $90,000 to several Hudson County towns. Since North Bergen, Hoboken and Bayonne also joined the suit, each will receive a portion of the cash settlement. Secaucus will get $71,800, Bayonne, $6,700, North Bergen, $6,700, and Hoboken, $4,800. In settling the case, said Secaucus Town Attorney Frank Leanza, TPI has agreed to comply with state requirements in the future. The payment was made for the 1998 through 2000 tax years.
Attorneys representing TPI recommended the city amend the abatement, which paid step-ups over two percent of project cost.
Last week, the City Council of Jersey City amended the remainder of the tax abatement to comply with state law. The city will lose $224,000 in taxes as a result. Payments on the 15-year abatement will end in 2006. Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell said this settlement brings up the money collected by the plaintiffs to $101,800. He said that to date Secaucus has expended $150,000 in legal fees, something he expects to easily recoup as more cases get settled.
Jersey City has said in the past that it plans to take any case to the state Supreme Court. The firm representing Jersey City was not involved in the settlement between Secaucus and TPI.
"We continue to challenge Secaucus," said Anne Babineau, of Woodbridge-based Wilentz Goldman & Spitzer, a firm representing Jersey City in the suits. She would not speculate on the reason for the settlement.
Her firm continues to work on 18 properties that Secaucus has filed suit against.