State, PILOT to blame for A.C. tax hike surprise

The issue of the county tax increase in Atlantic City deserves a clear explanation.

What some may not realize is the county amount to be raised by taxation in Atlantic City did not increase this year, but actually decreased by $1.4 million. Although Atlantic County collects less from Atlantic City, the city pays more because its tax credits have decreased as a result of the state PILOT program, or casino payments in lieu of taxes. The PILOT, which I vehemently opposed, exempts the casinos from any tax increase for 10 years. Therefore, any tax increase becomes the sole responsibility of Atlantic City’s non-casino taxpayers.

So why were Atlantic City taxpayers unaware this tax increase was coming? That is a fair and reasonable question.

Ever since the PILOT legislation passed, I have been warning state officials who have total control of city finances that this day of reckoning would come and they would be wise to prepare the non-casino taxpayers for it.

Unfortunately, they did not and that day of reckoning is now. Atlantic County is no longer providing an average of $7 million in annual tax credits that had been the case for the past 11 years but ended with the PILOT.

Atlantic City residents are understandably upset but there was no reason for them to be surprised. The state officials who control Atlantic City had to have known about the increase because they send out the city’s tax bills, not Atlantic County!

I empathize with Atlantic City’s non-casino taxpayers. Atlantic County tried to protect them by suing the state in Superior Court over the unfairness of the PILOT. While we won in a settlement, the flawed PILOT remains as well as the bigger question: If every other state in the country that has casino gaming can properly assess their casinos, why does New Jersey need this fallacious PILOT to do so?

Dennis Levinson

Linwood

Atlantic County executive

Rabbit control not easy

Regarding the recent letter, “Let cats loose to kill off city’s excess of rabbits”:

The letter describes the “downright pestilence” of “thousands of rabbits running wild” in the streets of Margate. This is clearly a serious matter, not to be taken lightly, as the writer’s mother was “almost killed by a dog chasing a rabbit.” Generally, rabbits are not scary. I can agree that in mass quantities they are.

Perhaps Bugs Bunny himself is the leader and wise-cracking instigator of this destructive infestation of furry fiends.

Among the most wanted of these fluffy thugs are Peter Rabbit, Br’er Rabbit, the March Hare, Pooh’s friend Rabbit, Thumper, the Trix cereal rabbit, the Runaway Bunny, Uncle Wiggily, the vicious medieval Monty Python rabbit, and the whole Watership Down mob.

As for the suggested solution of cats to control the rabbit population, this is not without its own problems. Dogs would still wantonly chase cats, endangering frail pedestrians.

Cassandra Swiencon

Egg Harbor Township

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