A controversial proposal to renew a five-year tax abatement plan in Asbury Park was tabled by the City Council at last week’s meeting but a vote is expected soon on the matter.
First enacted about 10 years ago and renewed in 2008, the tax exemption ordinance allows city property owners to apply for tax abatements for improvements made to existing structures and new construction. The current ordinance expired at the end of last year.
The tax abatement plan allows home improvements or new construction projects to receive a 30 percent reduction on property taxes over a five-year period. City officials said many developers and businesses, but few residents, apply for the abatement, which totaled $2.4 million in 2013.
Deputy Mayor Sue Henderson said the tax abatement process “is a rigorous application. You have to apply for it and meet certain qualifications in order to get it.”
She said that after five years the properties are reassessed and the property owners then pay full taxes.
The council temporarily withdrew the ordinance after some residents questioned its language and intent.
Resident Werner Baumgartner pointed out that duplexes, apartments and some other multiple dwellings are not included in the ordinance.
“There is an entire class of properties not addressed here at all,” he said
City Attorney Fredrick C. Raffetto said that if those omissions are in the ordinance, then they probably date back about 10 years to when it was first drafted.
Resident Rita Marano said she is against the ordinance.
“You’ve had 10 years and is there any evidence or a report (on how the program is working)? Who’s in charge and do we collect anything? Taxpayers keep paying more and more and more- something has to happen here. We keep paying and it’s not fair- 10 years is enough all the way around, this is a bad picture,” she said.
West Side resident Dan Harris said the council should either table the ordinance for review or vote it down.
“Some West Side residents pay more taxes than their friends in Spring Lake,” he said.
Councilman John Moor said from the podium last week that he is going to vote against the ordinance.
This week he modified that statement, saying the he may possibly be convinced to vote in favor of the ordinance if it were modified, particularly to not favor major developers as much.
“But not as it is now. I don’t think (the abatement) has really brought anybody new into Asbury Park. It hasn’t been effective and the wrong people are taking advantage of it,” he said.
Henderson said she does not see how the ordinance can be modified at this time.