Atlantic City’s share of the 2015 county tax burden will fall to about 20 percent from 28 percent last year, if the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) legislation does not become law and tax bills continue to be based on equalized values.
The other 22 municipalities will have to make up the difference, to cover the $160 million to be raised by taxation for this year's $201 million county budget.
The fall in percentage is based on Atlantic City losing about $4 billion in property value in the past year, due to successful tax appeals. The city fell to a total value of $7.34 billion from $11.8 billion, according to the Atlantic County Board of Taxation.
“It’s like losing an Egg Harbor Township,” said Assistant to the County Tax Administrator Keith Szendrey. Egg Harbor Township’s current assessed value is about $4 billion.
About $3.4 billion of the loss in value in Atlantic City was from falling values on commercial properties, according to city tax records. They were mainly from adjustments in value to casino properties, said Szendrey.
County Executive Dennis Levinson, who has asked Gov. Chris Christie to conditionally veto the PILOT bill in order to make changes that protect taxpayers, said Friday it might be time to consider scrapping the PILOT in favor of accurate assessing.
“We may be at true value now with all of the appeals,” Levinson said of casino assessments in Atlantic City.
“Atlantic City would have to hire a specialist, not a regular assessor,” said Szendrey of the idea of returning to assessing the casinos. “It would be a challenge, but given the stakes ... You’d have to hire somebody with serious credentials and significant wisdom.”
At the least, Levinson wants the PILOT bill changed to guarantee the county receive 13.5 percent of PILOT payments, which it sets at $150 million a year for two years, falling to $120 million or less for the next 13 years based on gaming revenues. He also wants to keep casino values on the books for the purpose of figuring county tax rates.
The bill that passed the state Legislature does not specify what percentage of PILOT payments should be shared with the county. Levinson and Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian agreed in principle to the 13.5 percent figure, but it was never put into a formal intergovernmental agreement or ratified by City Council and the freeholders.
Atlantic City City Council members said at a freeholder meeting this week they don’t believe it’s a fair percentage, and that there is no deal.
The Atlantic County Mayors Association and the Atlantic County Board of Chosen Freeholders have also asked the governor to conditionally veto the PILOT bill to make changes to it.
This week, the county Tax Administrator's office sent information to all municipalities but Atlantic City, so they can send out tax bills to residents. Atlantic City has not yet passed its municipal budget, so cannot send tax bills.
The office provided the county tax bill and total tax bill for each town based on current law, in case the PILOT doesn’t pass, said Szendrey. If it does pass, county tax bills will have to be refigured, he said.
Share of Atlantic County Tax Burden*
Absecon 1.9% $3.2 million 2.1% $3.5 million
Atlantic City 28.6% $40 million 20.1% tbd**
Brigantine 8% $12.9 million 9.6% $15.9 million
Buena .6% $1million .7% $1.2 million
Buena Vista 1.5% $2.5 million 1.6% $2.7 million
Corbin City 1.3% $207,000 1.4% $234,000
EH City*** .6% $955,000 .6% $971,000
EH Twp 10.6% $17.4 million 11.3% $18.8 million
Estell Manor .4% $656,000 .44% $746,000
Folsom .44% $740,400 .47% $774,000
Galloway 7% $10.9 million 8.2% $13.5 million
Hamilton 5.6% $9.1 million 6% $10 million
Hammonton 3.2% $5.3 million 3.7% $6.1 million
Linwood 2.4% $4 million 2.7% $4.5 million
Longport 4.6% $7.7 million 5.2% $8.6 million
Margate 9.5% $15.5 million 10.7% $17.8 million
Mullica 1.2% $2 million 1.3% $2.2 million
Northfield 2.2% $3.5 million 2.6% $4.3 million
Pleasantville*** 2.3% $3.8 million 2.1% $3.6 million
Port Republic .3% $517,000 .36% $608,000
Somers Point 2.9% $4.7 million 3.2% $5.3 million
Ventnor City 5.7% $9.2 million 6.3% $10.3 million
Weymouth .38% $638,000 .44% $739,000
*Amounts paid are net, after subtracting refunds due for previous years’ overpayments, such as after successful tax appeals.
**20% would be $32 million, overpayments would then be subtracted.
***Egg Harbor City and Pleasantville property values fell significantly enough to keep their percentage the same or decrease it. Some towns’ values decreased, but percentage share still increased because Atlantic City’s went down so much more.
SOURCE: Atlantic County Board of Taxation