Finance Board OKs $55M for Atlantic City tax appeals

TRENTON – Atlantic City received Local Finance Board approval Wednesday for $55 million related to tax appeals for 2013, most of which is related to casinos fighting their tax assessments.

The request was reduced from $85 million when city officials informed the board that applications for $20 million related to an as-yet unsettled appeal involving the Borgata and $10 million related to prior-year appeals was going to be deferred.

Of the $55 million approved today, most of it is related to a tax appeal involving the Tropicana resort, the board was told.

The city remains under state supervision, this is the third consecutive year of sizeable tax appeals, and board Chairman Thomas Neff said that once the Borgata case is resolved, it is possible the city could apply to the board for an end to the state supervision.

 

In other matters:

The board upheld a decision that Neff made in his capacity as director of the Division of Local Government Services not to terminate without pay a Spotswood employee serving as both chief financial officer and tax collector.

Neff said today that the information provided to the state by Spotswood didn’t rise to anywhere near the level to OK such a dismissal of Barbara Petren.

Petren, a tenured Civil Service employee, is currently suspended with pay while the case works its way through the courts.

The borough alleged that residents were overbilled for water service in 2012 under her watch, and she was suspended in January, but Neff said today that the case brought to him “was lacking in many respects.’’

 

Newark supermarket

The Local Finance Board OK’d a $6.6 million project for a full-service supermarket in Newark. 

Springfield Avenue Holding Urban Renewal Company, LLC is proposing a supermarket, possibly a ShopRite, as well as some residential units, on 11.6 acres that has been vacant for a quarter century, the board was told today.

The project is expected to generate about 300 permanent jobs and housing for 324 people.  The supermarket is estimated to take up about 67,000 square feet.

The board was told that the project overall is expected to cost $90 million, and the commercial portion targeted for tax abatement is about $72 million of that.

 

Camden

The board approved a Camden County Improvement Authority application for $43 million for bond refunding, but Neff took issue with $200,000 in finance fees that he said essentially goes to pay salaries.

“At the end of the day,’’ he said, “the taxpayers wind up paying the operating expenses of the authority today 20 years from now.”

The board was told by authority officials that the county largely has eliminated project management staff, but Neff reiterated that this makes the cost of borrowing larger, and that if the authority returns next year under similar circumstances there could be a problem.

Finance Board OKs $55M for Atlantic City tax appeals