Perspective: Fifth District
We have all watched as fuel and food costs continue to rise with no end in sight. Acknowledging the financial pressure, we all face, I wanted to discuss the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes program or PILOT which is currently in place in Atlantic City.
In a previous lawsuit the courts determined that Atlantic County would receive 13.5 percent of property taxes paid by Atlantic City casinos. These funds are a revenue in Atlantic County’s budget funding critical programs like Meals on Wheels, and other programs our county residents need.
However, the State of New Jersey has turned its back on this agreement with Atlantic County by trying to undo the court settlement and passed a new PILOT legislation that saw millions taken from Atlantic County. Atlantic County has sought relief in the courts to overturn Governor Phil Murphy and the State Legislators attempt to throw out the previous PILOT agreement and require the State to live up to the 13.5 percent court settlement agreed to a few years ago.
The courts have ruled that Atlantic County is entitled to damages it will incur because of this attempt to change the original agreement. As the case works its way through the courts, Atlantic County Executive Denny Levinson and the Atlantic County Commissioners will fight every day to get the county’s fair share.
I’ll continue to keep you updated on the progress with the PILOT, and while I know the Atlantic City Casino Industry is facing the same financial pressure along with every business in Atlantic County large or small, I leave you with this thought. Why didn’t the governor look to adjust the payments that casinos pay to the state from casino taxes, hotel taxes and CRDA fees if he truly wants to help support the casino industry?
Here in Atlantic County, we’ve kept taxes nearly flat for a decade through smart planning and conservative budgets. We’ve had perfect audit, after perfect audit in what is known as the best-run county in New Jersey, So ask yourself: Is Atlantic County the problem?