Wednesday, July 22, 2009

TAXES OR A FREE RIDE

In this year of financial stress, would it not be important to know what properties are not producing their fair share of taxable dollars to the city's income. Included should be buildings that have either a tax abatement or are part of a "pilot program".

The public is entitled to know the terms of the agreement, the percentage tax being paid or fix sum so in lieu of tax.

A concerned citizen at Monday's Council meeting asked, not for the first time, what properties including governmental buildings, school district sites, "not for profit" agencies which includes Solaris, religious organizations, and others entitled by law to tax exemption are on Plainfield's books. Of course he could go to the Tax Accessor's office and check the books himself but he and we should be entitled to a public response.

That was not the first time he had asked that question and this writer has not only requested the same information but suggested that the not for profits holdings be examined to see if they are being used for income generating purposes, not charitable.

There are several buildings which are owned by the religious organizations that are not used as a parish home. If they are being used for income producing purposes for the organization or not intimately involved in its mission, I would question if they are entitled to exempt status. I believe that it is in the grey area that a separate residence for a spiritual leader that is not contiguous to the house of worship should qualify.

There are other facilities that have been built in Plainfield by qualifying agencies that have subsequently changed ownership once or more. If they have become "for profit" have they maintained their tax exempt status? Has anyone checked?

Regarding the proposed ordinance passed on first reading for a tax abatement for the condos at the Monarch I feel that it is inappropriate unless the same perk is granted to every new purchaser of a home in the city.

Plainfield already has given the developer a sweetheart deal by selling the land for $1.00. WE taxpayers do not need to further subsidize his investment. Additionally, since we have been in effect threatened that if the condos are not sold-I don't believe that they will be- he will turn the units ito rental apartments, why are not taxes being levied on the entire structure. What is delaying the CO? How can he sell condos if the building does not have a certificate of occupancy? Since the Senior Citizens Center can not be used without the CO is the city responsible for its reported 14% of the buildings operating costs? Will we ever get any answers to any of these questions.

One more thought, when a tax abatement is granted are there any specified time or use restrictions in the agreement ?

Finally, a new Pilot Program for the Cedarbrook Senior Citizen's Apartment Building!. My own personal opinion is that it is not appropriate.

The original 47 year Pilot program was granted in 1976 as part of the requirements of the Federal backed agencies mortgage requirements. The City was in effect becoming a partner in the development of a needed building. The original investors have made a profit on their investment in part due to our required subsidisation. With the sale of the property the original mortgage will be paid off and the city's obligation finished.


New ownership is not buying a building with developmental risks, the income is assured and the purchase purpose is for profit. The building is no longer a community responsibility. We do not have to facilitate the sale or purchase of the property. I am sure that somewheres in the deed to the apartment is a clause that it was constructed for Seniors and that there are specific rental regulations. Has our legal arm researched this and given an opinion before any action is sought on this program? I hope that will be addressed when the new Pilot Program next is up for action.

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