The payments are referred to as PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes). Usually the payments go directly to the city's coffers, as opposed to conventional tax payments, where the money is distributed among the city, the county, and the school system.
At last week's City Council meeting, there were several abatements introduced including a 30-year tax abatement for low-income rental housing on Bergen Avenue, a 20-year tax abatement for a 78-unit condominium project located on Oakland Avenue, and a 20-year abatement for a 16-story residential tower with 212 units located in Newport.Approved on final reading was a 20-year tax exemption for 59-unit residential condo building to be located on Essex Street.
That last vote was met with disapproval by several members of the audience.
Yvonne Balcer gave Mayor Jerramiah Healy a tongue-lashing in absentia for the many abatements that were approved recently, including at the previous City Council meeting on Jan. 26. Balcer said that they are near the waterfront and don't need the extra incentive. She supplied a picture to the City Council that showed that the 150 Essex St. location is located in close proximity to the waterfront.
Dan Falcon, a downtown resident who also runs a website about local issues, said that while he favors some tax abatements, he couldn't see why the 150 Essex St. project or the residential tower project at Newport should receive a tax abatement since they are located on some of the most valuable real estate in the city.
Steven Fulop, a resident of Paulus Hook well-known for his run for Congress against Robert Menendez, challenged the City Council to raise their hands if they had taken money from developers that influenced their approval of abatements.
City Council President L. Harvey Smith said that receiving money did not influence his past votes on abatements, and scolded Fulop for using the City Council meeting as a forum on ethics. Other council news
The council caucus last Monday night also saw some action, as there was a discussion of city employees being relocated from offices at 325 Palisade Ave. and 586 Palisade Ave. to new offices at 1 Journal Square Plaza.
The City Council voted at the Wednesday night meeting to authorize the city to execute a 10-year lease with owners of 1 Journal Square to rent over 28,000 square feet of space.
Also, Juan Albornoz, a downtown resident, spoke at the caucus about what he believed was overcharging by United Water, which is charge of the city's water system.
According to Albornoz, he was charged on one bill 10 times what he normally pays. He said they charged him $442 for several months ahead, but he was able to protest it. He speculated that it has happened to other people.
Also, the council approved the New Jersey City University West Campus Redevelopment Plan, which will see development of several abandoned warehouses and factories near Route 440 as well as the creation of two new streets.