Saturday, April 29, 2017

Mayor's Association Votes To Sue State

The Atlantic County Mayors Association unanimously voted Friday to sue the state over the payment in lieu of taxes Atlantic City’s casinos are locked into for 10 years.
They argue the legislation, called a PILOT, is unconstitutional.

The mayors, who gathered at The Cove in Brigantine for their monthly meeting, fumed over the county not receiving a 13.5 percent share of the PILOT, which County Executive Dennis Levinson said will lead to a significant tax increase.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this group than I am right now,” Levinson said after the vote.
County lawyers will lead the lawsuit, but municipalities may have to hire their own attorneys, County Counsel Jim Ferguson said. Those hires would be at the county’s expense, officials said.

The motion to take the vote were raised by Buena Vista Mayor Chuck Chiarello and Absecon Mayor John Armstrong, both Democrats, and was unanimously approved by the bipartisan association.
Last month, the Atlantic County Board of Chosen Freeholders passed a resolution giving Levinson the authority to sue the state over the Atlantic City takeover and the PILOT legislation.

On Friday after the vote, Levinson said there is no reason to go after the takeover because gubernatorial front-runners Phil Murphy, a Democrat, and Kim Guadagno, a Republican, said they would favor ending the takeover if elected.
“We’re really going to focus on the PILOT because the takeover is ending in January,” Levinson said.

Guadagno has said she would favor ending the takeover as soon as possible but gave no exact timetable.
Meanwhile, state Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, a sponsor of the PILOT bill, told the mayors at the meeting that if they sue and end the PILOT, they could come out worse on the other side.
The PILOT was passed so casinos could pay a fixed payment in lieu of property taxes and end costly tax appeals for 10 years. But it did not stop casinos from filing appeals for previous years, which led to a recent $72 million settlement with the Borgata.
“Be careful what you wish for,” Whelan said. “If the PILOT gets thrown out and the casinos continue to appeal their property assessments, you’re going to be in a lot of trouble.

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