Part of Lawmaker’s Focus on Property Tax Relief, Economic Development & Job Creation for A.C. Region
(TRENTON) — A 5-bill package Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo sponsored to bring property tax relief and stability to Atlantic City’s residents and businesses as part of his continued efforts to reinvigorate the region’s economy and create jobs was approved Thursday by the Assembly.
“We need to stop the bleeding in Atlantic City,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “Reducing the property tax burden on families and businesses is a top priority. This legislation will bring real reform to Atlantic City and help stabilize the tax base to bring new investment and businesses to the region. Atlantic City’s new status as an Economic Growth Zone will be the catalyst that delivers hundreds of millions of new investment to the city, but we know businesses won’t come without real reform.”
Mazzeo earlier this year sponsored legislation (A-3213) to further encourage economic development and job growth in Atlantic City.
The multimedia package consists of Mazzeo discussing the individual bills in the package and audio and a transcript of same.
The audio file is available upon request.
A transcript of Mazzeo discussing his bill package is appended at the end of this release.
“These new bills combine property tax stabilization with belt-tightening,” Mazzeo said. “This combination, along with ensuring we protect workers, will create future economic development opportunities and jobs. This will make Atlantic City and the entire region a more affordable place to live and work.”
The bills would:
- (A3981) — Create the “Casino Property Taxation Stabilization Act” to address the dire situation in Atlantic City with casino closures. These closures, coupled with large property tax refunds owed by the city to several casinos as the result of successful property assessment appeals, created fiscal concerns for the city, which now cannot raise sufficient revenue to fund municipal government and schools.
“This bill will provide certainty to Atlantic City residents that their taxes won’t be raised on the backs of casino tax appeals. It further provides certainty to Atlantic City about the financial obligation of the casinos to the coffers of Atlantic County and the Atlantic City School District,” Mazzeo said.
The bill would require that the casino gaming properties in Atlantic City be responsible for the payment to the city of an annual payment in lieu of tax, based on casino gaming revenues.
- (A3982) — Require the holder of a casino license to submit proof to the state that all agreements it’s entered into with representatives of its employees for collective bargaining provide for suitable health care benefits and retirement benefits for all full-time employees. A casino that fails to comply would be subject to forfeiture of its license.
- (A-3983) — Establish an additional category of state school aid to help Atlantic City decided by the education commissioner. Under the bill, a school district may receive this aid if it’s situated in a municipality in which:
- commercial property accounted for at least 75 percent of the total assessed property valuation in 2008, and
- between 2008 and 2013, the assessed value of commercial property declined by at least 25 percent.
The Atlantic City School District is the only district that meets these criteria. Commercial property accounted for nearly 78 percent of the municipality’s total assessed property valuation in 2008, and declined by nearly 32 percent, from nearly $16 billion to less than $11 billion, between 2008 and 2013.
- (A-3984) — Reallocate the casino investment alternative tax to Atlantic City to pay debt service on municipal bonds.
“It’s all about property tax relief,” Mazzeo said.
- (A-3985) — Repeal the law that requires the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority to enter into an agreement the Atlantic City Alliance for a five-year partnership. The bill also repeals the portion of law that authorized the authority to assess a fee on casino licensees if the public-private partnership was terminated or otherwise ended.
The bill (A-3981) was approved 51-20-2, the bill (A-3982) was approved 46-26-1, the bill (A-3983) was approved 43-23-4, the bill (A-3984) was approved 49-22-3 and the bill (A-3985) was approved 71-0-3. The bills now await further consideration by the Senate.
Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo (D-Atlantic):
“I’m sponsoring all these bills because it’s very important. In the last two years, we saw 53 percent increase in property taxes in Atlantic City. And this does not only affect Atlantic City, it affects Atlantic County.
“It’s very important that we stabilize property taxes in Atlantic City because there is an impact in the whole county. We’re losing 8,000 jobs, we saw four casinos close and we saw the increase in property taxes. These bills, in fact, will stabilize property taxes, will get the economy going and will invigor some investments in Atlantic City and, therefore, helping Atlantic County as a whole.
“Pilot program for Atlantic City. What it does is establish a steady revenue flow for the casinos and also establishes a revenue flow for the city so they know exactly what to expect every year. In the past few years, as you know, we had a lot of tax appeals, where the city lost a lot of tax revenue. So, this will put a stop to the tax appeals where the city can anticipate the certain revenue from the casinos.
“We had about 8,000 workers laid off this year. The casino industry was to look at their health benefits or their pensions and in some ways they tried to do away with them. I don’t think that’s a good way to practice business and, so we want to stand up for the workers.
“Any casino license that goes to Atlantic City must provide a collective bargaining agreement with casino workers to have health benefits and pension and if not, they could possibly forfeit their license.
“With Atlantic City casinos closing, we lost a lot of tax revenue. Money coming from the casinos, in the past, helped pay for, or subsidize, the school funding. This bill will add additional school aid from the state to help subsidize school funding.
“This bill will go directly to the debt service of Atlantic City. Why is that important? Because it’ll directly help the residents and businesses of Atlantic City. If we pay down the debt, future tax bills will see a decrease. This, going forward, will lower property taxes for the residents and businesses in Atlantic City.”