Candidate Statements

Candidate Statements

$1.3 Million Tax Break - For Who?

c7188180dbdca8ca5032_bonacci_ts2.jpg
$1.3 Million Tax Break - For Who?
c7188180dbdca8ca5032_bonacci_ts2.jpg

SUMMARY -There is quite an uproar amongst Berkeley Heights residents since Connell received a tax break of about $1.3 million.  This was a result of a large reduction in their 2010 assessment of four properties at Connell Corporate Park.  The current status is that the Tax Assessor defended his action in public and the Governing Body is waiting for the current Mayor to assign our Tax Consultant Lawyer to tell us how to appeal this action.  The appeal was suggested by Resident Taxpayer Sean Manns and endorsed and requested by Councilman Bonacci.

 

Here is my version of the series of information passed on, since this action was taken (by the Tax Assessor, Mr. Edgar in Dec. 2009).

Sign Up for E-News

 

  1. Connell via several designees came to the Tax Assessor in December 2009 requesting assessment reductions on their properties.
  2. Mr. Edgar said he kept Mayor Cohen informed in December by phone and/or other means.
  3. Mr. Edgar also informed Mayor Cohen by memos in January and February (public records) which no Council member admits seeing until May or so.
  4. Mr. Edgar, in those memos, told the Mayor that he should plan on legal fees in the 2010 budget for attorneys to help with other appeals.  He also said there would be no appeal from Connell since he settled with them.
  5. Mr. Sincaglia, VP of the BOE, told the Acting Mayor Bruno and Council at the March 23, 2010 School Board budget presentation that there was a large tax assessment reduction which raised the tax rate for the school tax.
  6. A few days later, resident Sean Manns saw Councilman Bonacci in Town Hall, discussed the budget and noted that he had seen the Tax Assessor and was disappointed in the numbers.
  7. As a Councilman who had not been previously informed of the action and consequences, I went to see the Assessor to gather information.  I also obtained copies of letters he sent in January and February to Mayor Cohen.  After several meetings and discussions I asked the Assessor for details for the current governing body and myself.  The result was a May 25, 2010 memo by him to the Mayor and Council detailing the results of his actions and the $1.3 million dollars (this is a public record).
  8. I sent an e-mail on June 28, 2010 to the Mayor and Council expressing my concern and suggesting follow-up and action (see attachment #1 for public record). I received no responses.
  9. As a result of further inquiries by me to the Assessor, he sent a July 12, 2010 memo to the mayor and Council (received by all on July 20 as a public record) detailing all changes in assessments from calendar 2009 to calendar 2010.  I received no response from anyone on this either and no Council or Executive meetings took place to my knowledge.
  10. Mr. Manns sent an e-mail to Mayor and Council expressing his concerns and followed up by coming to Council meetings on August 10, 24 and September 14, 2010 (public record).  The August 24, 2010 attendance at a Council meeting by Mr. Edgar resulted and was covered by the local newspapers, however, I was out of state and not in attendance.
  11. At the Sept. 14, 2010 Council meeting I entered into the record a list of questions (see attachment #2), which only Mr. Bruno answered in public thus far.
  12. At the same Sept. 14, 2010 Council meeting, Mr. Manns obtained a statement from Mr. Bruno that Mayor Cohen told Mr. Bruno about the Connell assessment but Bruno did not confirm when or provide any details.
  13. On Sept. 16, 2010 Mr. Manns via e-mail to the Mayor and Council (public record) informed us the Town could make an appeal.  It was based on his discussion with the County Tax Administrator.  He suggested that the Town investigate how to proceed and he offered to help.  He received e-mail responses from Mr. Bruno and myself that that it was a good idea and we should proceed.
  14. At the Sept. 28, 2010 Council Meeting, I called for the Mayor to assign follow-up and define the procedure we could follow and to present us with an approach we could vote on.  Mayor Woodruff suggested Mr. Sol Wolf, our tax consultant lawyer could do this and it was agreed.

 

I hope that action will be forthcoming at the Oct. 12, 2010 Council meeting so that we can vote and pursue this important matter.  It means a significant cost impact for all taxpayers in 2011 if action is timely and positive.

 

I will close by stating that I believe the Tax Assessor has some rational to his setting of the assessed values but his judgment on a number of counts was poor.  I believe he could have held to his own calculations and lowered the tax less than he ultimately did.  If I am elected Mayor, I feel that I can correct this situation by any of the following or a combination of actions; namely:

  1. Appoint a new tax assessor
  2. Appoint a Tax Board of three persons rather than an Assessor
  3. Appoint a resident Advisory Committee to provide an overview of major tax assessment changes.

 

Lacking any further positive tax action on this matter, we could ask Connell to contribute $1.3 million per year for 10 years towards a library, community center, town hall and senior center.

 

Sincerely, John C. Bonacci, Mayoral Candidate - Candidate Statement #3-10-06-10

Attachment 1—e-mail of Bonacci on June 28, 2010

Attachment 2__ public statement of Bonaci on September 14, 2010.

 

Attachment 1- Bonacci e-mail of June 28, 2010

 

 

From:

Jack Conway <jconway@bhtwp.com>

To:

fibonaccij@aol.com <fibonaccij@aol.com>

Subject:

RE: Connell Tax Assessment

Date:

Mon, Jun 28, 2010 3:24 pm


John - redgar@bhtwp.com ......I copied him on this for you

 From:fibonaccij@aol.com[mailto:fibonaccij@aol.com]
Sent: Monday, June 28, 2010 3:15 PM
To: John Bonacci; Robert Woodruff; Joe Bruno; gnelson27@comcast.net; Jack Conway; Jack Conway; Elaine Perna; Kevin Hall; Craig Pastore; lsantillo@bhtwp.comttedesco@bhtwp.com; tscrivo@mdmc-law.com
Subject: Connell Tax Assessment

All, 

Check if I missed anyone on this list (no e-mail for assessor).

I am just finding time to comment further on the May 25, 2010 memo of Bob Edgar, the Tax assessor, since my original enquiry to him.  A number of residents are showing deep concern about this tax reduction expecially because of the budget activity.  Not all the concerns are valid but the perception is.  I believe the governing body needs to address this issue in public but if there is a confidential aspect under the Sunshine Act 9 items then this could occur first. 

Here is the way I see it in some chronological order and please note that I have discussed this with the Tax assessor on several occassions and as recently as this a.m. and am still waiting for more details to satisfy myself and my learning curve. 

1.  I first became aware of this in a qualitative sense on MArch 23, 2010 when Mr. Sincaglia of the BOE raised the issue for Mr. Bruno, the then Acting Mayor and for Mr. Cohen the prior MAyor.  When I responded to Mr. Sincaglia's comment it was simply to clarify the relationship of the tax assessment to any actual tax not the specifics of pros and cons on that assessment.  This means that there is no impact on any overall budget in balancing taxes with expenses.  However other tax payers can be affected since the relative assessment changes who pays what portion of any absolute dollar tax.  That is, if one person goes down, others must go up whether they be residents or other commercial or industrial payers.

2.  Mr. Edgar did keep Mayor Cohen informed of his mtgs and decisions (memos of JAn 25, 2010 and Feb 1, 2010 and perhaps other discussions).  Council Members and the Administrator and other appointed officials may or may not have received copies.

3.  No one went into any further questioning of the actions taken even with respect to the Alcatel Lucent status or the numerous other appeals made by tens of residents.

4. I am waiting for a list of the individual and total of the other appeal requests for 2010 whether granted or not.  It behooves all of us  to study this when it becomes available and make any judgments necessary.  I am also waiting for some copy or definition of the law regarding "economic rent or value" whatever the legal term is. 

My bottom line at this moment is that the Connell adjustment was untimely and inappropriate and I am disappointed that the MAyor (and perhaps Mr. Bruno) were more aware than the rest of us and did not pursue this matter.  For the wrong reason, I commend Mr. Sincaglia for bringing this to light in public and also Mr. Sean Mann for pursuing this as a resident for whatever motivation he had. 

I look foraward to the other information and to any comments and a future joint discussion of this matter. 

Sincerely,John Bonacci

 

Attachment 2- Comments-Council 9-14-10 by John Bonacci

 

I will use my time to catch up with the Connell Tax Break since Annette and I were out of state with our children and grandchildren on Aug. 24 when the Assessor was here.

 

I have a list of questions for him and for all of us even though I have been researching the situation since late March when Mr. Sincaglia first raised the issue as part of the School Board presentation.  Mr. Manns saw me in Town Hall a few days later and told me he saw the Assessor and the Connell re-assessment was large.  I then met with Mr. Edgar the Assessor several times to gather information.

 

He sent a May 25 memo to the entire governing body and a July 12 memo to the entire governing body. One started out “at the request of Councilman Bonacci”  and the other “Councilman Bonacci was in to follow up and asked “.

 

In between those memos and visits I sent a June 28 e-mail to the entire governing body, the Administrator and the Clerk and the Town Attorney.  I stated that many residents were concerned because Connell’s savings resulted in other taxpayers higher  cost in a difficult budget year.  I asked that the governing body look into this adjustment privately and in public because I felt it was untimely and inappropriate.

So my questions are:

  1. Did any Governing Body Member use Blackberry Messenger, text mail or e-mail to discuss the Connell taxes?
  2. Who informed Mr. Sincaglia and when was he informed?
  3. What did the Tax Assessor say to Mayor Cohen or the Township Attorney in Dec. 2009?
  4. What did Mayor Cohen say to the Tax Assessor in Dec. 2009?
  5. Why didn’t the Mayor and/or the Tax Assessor inform the Council of this large change in Dec. 2009 before it was consummated?
  6. Did the Tax Assessor ever do one this large before and not talk to an appraiser or lawyer or consultant?
  7. Why didn’t Mayor Cohen bring it to the Council when he received a letter direct to him in January 21 and 25 and Feb. 1 of 2010 when he said here are the figures you are interested in?
  8. Why didn’t Mr. Bruno as the Acting Mayor on March 23, 2010 get the same information as Mayor Cohen and/or bring this to the Council for discussion?
  9. Why didn’t Mayor Woodruff and Council respond to my e-mail or the data provide to them on May 25 and July 20?
  10. Why didn’t the Assessor stick to his calculated values, which were about halfway between what Connell had and what they asked for?
  11. Why didn’t Mayor Cohen or the Tax Assessor poll the Council on whether we could afford an Appeal by Connell or not?
  12. Can any taxpayer under the law appeal the Connell assessment in the Tax Appeal Court?
  13. Can the Township financially support in an appeal any Taxpayer, like Mr. Manns who seems to have done all the work and makes a strong case for unfairness to all the Townspeople?

Now, I am still doing some research and developing ideas on current and future procedures and believe perhaps we can have a Tax Forum with the public. I submit this

status and questions into the record for further consideration. –JOHN C. BONACCI

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

Mike Zuko at Salem Roadhouse Cafe

February 19, 2018

Raised on a diet of The Beatles, Buddy Holly and The Doors, Michael Zuko was exposed first hand to the thrilling music of the legendary 70s NYC club scene. Zuko and the band show a skilled singer-songwriter who is backed by solid musical talent, bringing original, fresh and intelligent lyrics to the stage. A true entertainer, Mike engages the audience fully and leaves them wanting more. Mike and ...

German Language School of Morris County Raises $1,000 for Market Street Mission

February, the month of all things red and romantic with red, hearts, roses, and chocolates, is also a time to show our love of friends and community. Students from the German Language School of Morris County (www.njlearnsgerman.org and www.glsmc.org), took that lesson to heart and raised $1,000 for The Market Street Mission (www.marketstreet.org), a Morristown haven for the needy for more than ...

Kick Off for the Relay for Life of Berkeley Heights, Mountainside, New Providence & Summit 

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - There will be a Kick Off for Relay for Life on Thursday, March 1st. It will be held at the Gov. Livingston High School Cafeteria at 7pm.  The theme of Kick Off is Back TO GL - we envision a future that is cancer free. Everything you need to know about Relay for Life will be presented in an interactive setting. Relay ...

Home for Good Dog Rescue's Annual "Taste of Italy" Dinner & Tricky Tray

For the ninth consecutive year, Home for Good Dog Rescue's "Taste of Italy" Spaghetti & Meatballs Dinner and Tricky Tray returns to the Long Hill Community Center in Stirling, NJ. More than 300 guests will gather on Saturday, March 3, for a family-friendly Italian-themed dinner featuring a wealth of prize baskets, including but not limited to gift certificates, pet products and ...

We Need More Women Like Colleen Mahr in Municipal, County and State Government

February 19, 2018

Dear Editor:

I’m proud to support Colleen Mahr for Chair of the Union County Democratic Committee  (UCDC) and am encouraging my Scotch Plains peers to join me.

I was a first time candidate wanting to make a difference in my hometown of Scotch Plains, when Mayor Mahr of neighboring Fanwood stepped in to help me campaign and win my election to be Councilwoman three years ago.

Democratic Party Would Be Making a Big Mistake by Not Recognizing Colleen Mahr's Talents

Dear Editor:

Mayor Colleen Mahr has been a valuable friend to the Township of Cranford. Whether it’s offering advice and assistance during devastating flood cleanup, supporting the Mayor's Council on the Rahway River, or her insight and assistance in meeting our affordable housing obligations, Mayor Mahr is always there for Cranford.

Colleen’s fairness and integrity is ...

Colleen Mahr Is The Leader Our Party Needs

Dear Editor:

My name is Patti Murgo. I am Committeewoman in Linden’s Eighth Ward. I am a life-long  DEMOCRAT, a party activist, and a believer in what being a democrat stands for. Last week, I received a piece of literature from our municipal chairman, Nick Scutari, regarding his “plans” for the County Democratic Party if he is elected county chairman.

Mr.

Chatham Borough Police Chief Crosson has Retired; Captain Gibbons is Acting Commander

February 12, 2018

CHATHAM, NJ - Phil Crosson Jr., who has been a member of the Chatham Borough Police Department since 1992, retired from his position as the police chief on Feb. 1.

"It came on pretty quickly," Crosson said when reached by phone on Sunday. "I was on vacation for six weeks and I bought a business. I came back for one day and retired."

According to Crosson, ...

‘Reefer Madness’ Comes to Chatham Borough Council; Cannabis Advocates Make Pitch for Chatham Marijuana Shop

February 14, 2018

CHATHAM, NJ - A group of pro-cannabis activists came to the Borough of Chatham Council meeting on Monday night and used the public commentary portion of the meeting to ask the council to support a marijuana dispensary in town.

The advocates, who say they have attended more than 80 town meetings to inform about the benefits of medical cannabis, mentioned the 1936 movie "Reefer ...

Upcoming Events

Mon, February 19

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Mon, February 19, 7:00 PM

Villagers Theatre, Somerset

Hairspray Auditions

Arts & Entertainment

Tue, February 20

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Wed, February 21

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Wed, February 21, 2:00 PM

New Providence Memorial Library, New Providence

The Underground Railroad Documentary

Arts & Entertainment

Thu, February 22

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Invest Like a Tortoise -- Not Like a Hare

Aesop’s “The Tortoise and the Hare” is a perfect metaphor for the way people go about investing their money. As you recall in the fable, the hare brags about his ability to beat the tortoise and is overly confident about winning. In the investment world, the hare is someone who thinks he or she is great at selecting “winners” and avoiding “losers.” The ...