Neptune officials are going to court in an effort to find out what portions of Jersey Shore University Medical Center is tax exempt and what portions are not.
At this week’s meeting, the Township Committee passed a resolution that allocates up to $10,000 for Township Attorney Gene Anthony to file a tax complaint in the Tax Court of New Jersey appealing the present not-for-profit exemption status of the Jersey Shore University Medical Center on Route 33.
Gov. Chris Christie recently vetoed a bill that would have kept hospitals tax exempt. The Governor’s veto means hospitals, which have had long-standing tax exemptions, may now have to cough up more property taxes.
Hospitals have typically been tax exempt since the early 20th century because they used to provide medical services for free to the poor but the same is not true today.
“We are in the beginning process of investigating this,” township Tax Assessor Bernie Haney said previously. He said that Jersey Shore already pays taxes on its gift shop and cafeteria.
Morristown recently took Morristown Hospital to court charging the hospital was being run too much like a private corporation and was thus, taxable. The court ruled that portions of the hospital are taxable and a settlement was negotiated. And the Governor’s veto let’s this ruling stand.
“This hospital is an economic engine for this township and I’m surprised,” resident Michael D. Fornino said about the township’s action. He said the $10,000 is money being spent “on a witch hunt.”
“It’s unbelievable. It makes, to me, absolutely no sense,” he said.
Mayor Kevin McMillan said the township was looking to “protect the interests of taxpayers” by passing the resolution.
Anthony said the complaint being filed seeks to determine what portions of the hospital are tax exempt and those that are not.
“This is the only way to get to that table and determine this,” he said.
He said that 10 other hospitals in the state are now under similar scrutiny.
Deputy Mayor Michael Brantley said that finding out the details will only benefit taxpayers.
“That’s why we are having this discovery,” he said.
Resident Dorothy Argyros praised the governing body’s action.
“The (tax exemptions) are being paid for by the rest of us. A hospital is not a free enterprise and we all know this,” she said.“I totally support this and am thrilled that you support this. We have been supporting (this hospital) in a great style,” she said.
The Jersey Shore University Medical Center is part of the Meridian Health Care system.