Tax Abatement Passes Despite Protests

In the Front Rows -Larry Fishman and attorney Alfred Faiella Observe Hours of Public Comment

But Asbury Park City Council Votes 4 - 1 in Their Favor

Aug 18, 2004- Redevelopment Attorney Tom Hasty, McManimon & Scotland, led the presentation by stating: Asbury Park Has a Ratables Problem , which is apparently legal jargon for the city is spending more $ than it's taking in. Hmmm. The way to cure this problem is to give up tax revenue to Asbury Partners, so its builders can offer tax breaks to their buyers. Any questions?? Yes!!! (See details at end of comments.)

Steve Troy- who holds an MBA from Wharton said he couldn't understand the charts presented by Tom Hasty the city's alternate redevelopment attorney.
Ernie Cody - who noted the presentation had no component for the city's expenses, which are the major factor in any tax forecast. As an accountant, he told Hasty, "You stink." (There was no figure offered to show the cost of services increasing as they must with new residents.)
James Kaedy - warned it will kill competition among developers, since it won't pay people to buy units in the rest of the city, where there are no abatements.
John Hamilton - wanted the abatement reduced, reasoning that one-third of our budget is now subsidized by the state. The properties under abatement will contribute no money to the school budget and very little to county taxes, making it necessary for other tax payers to take up the slack. He voted against the ordinance last night.
George Kary - why does anyone need an incentive to build on the ocean?
Werner Baumgartner - argued the basis for the formula Hasty used
Pat Fasano - who said his potential buyers' tax assessments are $3,800 for a 600 sq ft 1 BR condo. Three out of five cancelled their contracts. This the council saw as support for the push to gain ratables - but if you desperately need ratables, why would you voluntarily cut them by 50%???
Lester (of Corbo's) - rejected the tax abatement and raised the question that the city is subject to a lawsuit on the grounds that it has created a monopoly on the waterfront by having one developer controlling it. He owns a $1.5 million home in Ocean Twp and only pays $11,000 in tax. People in Asbury are paying $12,000 on a $300,000 assessed house at the current rate.
Pam Lamberton - asked Mr. Reidy to check the final calculations before a vote is taken.
Maureen Nevin - I asked Mr. Reidy if he was given a tax abatement incentive to purchase his half a million dollar home on 4th Avenue. He said no. The rationale for the incentive, I said, is to enable the middle man, Asbury Partners, who is adding cost to the waterfront redevelopment, to get his share. The builders have to charge more in order to incorporate the Partners approximately $100,000 per unit fee (which includes $17,500 per unit infrastructure charge - infrastructure that they were so supposed to furnish in exchange for their package deal). The builders then have to offer their buyers an incentive to pay these inflated prices - a tax break for a minimum of 10 years. Yeah, that works.
I wish I'd asked why we had not one but two redevelopment attorneys present - Hasty and Aaron. That goes a long way toward keeping the tax demand down.
Valarie Benjamin - A lifelong resident who feels the city "is being raped."
Rita Marano - spoke against the abatement
Gerry Scarano - spoke against the abatement
There were more, too. My apologies to those not included here. Feel free to add your thoughts -Email us. Does this sound like a democracy to you? Do you think the council should've voted against this input from their constituents?

Consider this: The original agreement was based on a 50% abatement at 100% of value. This is what was originally approved. So it would've meant waterfront condo owners would've paid taxes on a  sale price of $300,000 like the house was only sold for $150,000.  The ordinance last night means the  new owners pay only 35% on the $300,000 house, a tax rate as though they paid just $100,000 for the house. The result of this vote last night means a loss of millions in ratables for Asbury Park for up to the next 17 years.


Special Meeting Of Planning Board 6:30 PM Tonight - 8/9/04 - 8 PM city's review of  master plan. Public input requested.
City Hall Chambers, Main St., Asbury Park - Chambers entrance across from Post Office on Bangs Av.

I attended this meeting: As for that master plan, Susan Gruel, as the planning consultant on the job, is taking suggestions via email:
My take on this first meeting was that it was far too reminiscent of the waterfront redevelopment meetings, wherein even the planning board's 66 recommendations were largely ignored in the end. Skeptical? Yes. As with that plan, I asked last night and was told there will be no financial or economic forecast component in the master plan. I have a problem with that. If it's a characteristic of master plans, fine. Then hire a sharp municipal finance expert and let him or her draw up a parallel analysis. But you just can't plan without a budget. It doesn't work for people and it doesn't work for cities.  I will however be sending my suggestions as they come to mind...