Atlantic County and its municipal co-plaintiffs have all agreed to the terms of a settlement regarding the PILOT bill, officially known as the Casino Property Tax Stabilization Act.
Hamilton Township passed its resolution 5-0 in favor of the terms on Monday, May 7, the last of the agreements needed from the plaintiffs.
“This settlement helps to correct the glaring inadequacies of the PILOT legislation. Instead of costing non-casino taxpayers $40 million, they will now realize more than $30 million through the life of the PILOT,” said County Executive Dennis Levinson.
The county had no choice but to file suit against the State of New Jersey to challenge the PILOT that omitted the agreed upon 13.5% of casino tax payments and arbitrarily gave the county 10.4%, a difference of $4 million per year.
According to Levinson, these unfortunate circumstances could have easily been avoided if the state had assessed casinos fairly from the beginning.
“Every other state in the country with casino gaming has figured out how to properly assess casinos without a PILOT bill. Why is New Jersey the lone exception?”
After the bill was introduced and included the removal of the casinos from the tax base, a loss of $3.2 billion, the county received a commitment from former Governor Christie that would ensure its taxpayers 13.5% of the annual payments to help level the playing field. Instead, the county received only 10.4%.
“Once the governor reneged, we filed suit with the support of the Atlantic County Freeholder Board and the Mayors’ Association,” he noted.
The county executive credited Governor Murphy’s administration for recognizing the PILOT’s lack of fairness.
“Governor Murphy, unlike his predecessor, has proven to be a man of his word, which is very refreshing.”
Levinson also complimented Superior Court Judge Julio Mendez for insisting on settling this case and working tirelessly to ensure the taxpayers received a fair outcome.
The state will now finalize the language of the agreement but cannot alter the terms of the settlement that provide the 13.5%.
“Once all official settlement documents are signed we can introduce our 2018 county budget to the Freeholder Board. We were unable to do so without knowing the amount of PILOT funds the county would be receiving,” explained Levinson.
“It’s been a lengthy and at times frustrating process, but we are extremely satisfied with the outcome that will save Atlantic County and its taxpayers millions of dollars over the next several years.”