JERSEY CITY, NJ—After a Board of Education audit last year contended the city was and its school district were not collecting millions of dollars in revenue due to inaccurate Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) assessments, the city will be moving forward with an audit of its own.
Jersey City Mayor Steven M. Fulop has announced that the City of Jersey City will be moving forward with hiring auditors to review all historical PILOT agreements per the recommendation of the Board of Education forensic audit. City officials say the audit will ensure the city is receiving the maximum amount of revenue according to each individual PILOT agreement and any additional revenue found will be transferred to the Board of Education.
“While our administration has done away with granting tax abatements, we feel it is important to audit the abatements that were granted by previous mayors to ensure that those agreements are being upheld,” Mayor Fulop said. “Our priority over the next few months is to work closely with the Board of Education to solve the issues facing the city, and if there are recommendations from their audit that show areas where more money can be made available, our responsibly is to pursue it.”
The City Council will review proposals for three firms—Donohue, Gironda, Doria & Tomkins, LLC; Wielkotz & Company, LLC; and Hodulik & Morrison, P.A.—to review the 178 active abatement agreements, ranging from five years to 30 years in length, with the oldest projects dating back to early 1990s.
Mayor Fulop’s administration has not granted any tax abatements for more than three years. The administration has taken the position that the city “needs to be a tool used selectively and not in the same way that previous mayors had given them to nearly all projects.”
“We are thoroughly reviewing each PILOT agreement and all payments made to ensure the city receives the maximum amount possible and that all PILOT payment calculations are correct,” said John Metro, director of the department of finance for the City of Jersey City. “Once each audit is complete, we plan to contact property owners to confirm the billing adjustments. We will hold every developer accountable for their fair share of taxes.”
According to a report in Hudson County View, last October a forensic audit report performed by accounting firm PKF O’Connor Davies of New York City for the Board of Education concluded that the city and Board of Education were missing out on millions of dollars due to inaccurate PILOT billings.