The Jersey City City Council Caucus on Monday was the scene of a presentation by Naomi Bressler, a policy analyst with the policy thinktank New Jersey Policy Perspective. Her presentation was about Jersey City's abatement policy.
Bressler along with Hudson County resident Carolyn Topp had authored a report," All That Glitters Isn't Gold - Tax Abatements in Jersey City." It outlined the shortcomings of tax abatements granted in Jersey City for development along the city’s waterfront (aka the “Gold Coast”).
The report said that for one thing, abatements create a situation in which owners of non-abated properties in Jersey City have to pay property taxes that are distributed between the city, county and school district, while abated properties are excluded from paying school taxes and only pay a fraction of county taxes.
However, Bressler was questioned by officials such as Assistant City Corporation Counsel Joanne Monahan and City Business Administrator Brian O' Reilly over alleged inaccuracies in the report. They challenged her on her knowledge of abatement policy, which a feisty Bressler tried to deflect by explaining that she was looking for questions on the "substance of the report."
City Council Michael Sottolano had a spirited back-and-forth with Bressler about how abatements helped stabilized the city's tax rate.
As questioning wound down, O'Reilly offered a 29-page rebuttal to the NJPP report that was formed first in July, as reported first by the Jersey City Reporter. In the rebuttal report, it says that the city has already considered some of NJPP’s suggestions by implementing policies such as opening tax abatement committee meetings to the public.
In a related matter, Mayor Jerramiah Healy on Monday sent a letter to the City Council stating that he does not support an amendment to the 20-year abatement for the $250 million 77 Hudson St. project that would extend term for the abatement 10 more years and a lower service charge. Healy said he reviewed the application himself and found that there 77 Hudson Street should not have an amended abatement because it is "nearly fully developed." - RK