Author The Mailbag
After nine years of serving wealthy real estate developers at the expense of working-class homeowners, it was farcical to see Mayor Healy playing the role of populist at the Service Employee International Union's protest of Bank of America's mortgage division on Thursday.
Here's the story the mayor won't tell as part of his re-election campaign.
Since the day he took office in 2004, Mayor Healy has arranged for literally hundreds of millions of dollars worth of long-term property tax breaks on buildings constructed Downtown by some of the area's wealthiest real estate companies.
Under these deals, property owners pay a percentage of yearly revenue to the city instead of having their property taxed by a percentage of its value. The difference saves developers and their clients millions. Unlike regular property taxes, the school district gets no money under these deals.
State law says these property tax breaks, known as “abatements”, are meant for projects in “blighted” neighborhoods. The city, however, has ignored the spirit of the law, granting 30-year tax breaks to luxury waterfront buildings such as Crystal Point in Newport and Liberty Towers in Paulus Hook.
In the case of Crystal Point, executives behind the project donated heavily to Mayor Healy's slate of City Council candidates in 2009. Months after Healy's re-election, the project was awarded another decade of guaranteed tax breaks by the City Council.
The mayor's two-time running mate, former Councilman Mariano Vega, is serving three years in federal prison for taking bribes from a phony real estate developer wearing a wire for the F.B.I. Vega was chairman of the City Council's tax abatements committee, where meetings were closed to public until Vega was busted.
New Jersey's comptroller estimates that Jersey City loses around $120 million a year in revenue to these tax giveaways.
What does the city do? Spend less money? No. The city has to make up the difference on the backs on the city's social backbone, its working-class homeowners. Their taxes have gone up nearly 70-percent since Healy took office. Because of this, too many Jersey City homeowners are forced to choose between paying their tax bill and making their mortgage payments. The mayor should spend less time protesting and more time considering these real-life consequences of his hand-outs to developers.
Dear Editor: After nine years of serving wealthy real estate developers at the expense of working-class homeowners, it was farcical to see Mayor Healy playing the role of populist at the Service Employee International Union’s protest of Bank of America’s mortgage division on Thursday. Here’s the story the mayor won’t tell as part of his
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