CRANFORD - Cranford Board of Education President Kurt Petschow, Vice President Lisa Carbone, and board member William Hulse attended the Cranford Township Committee Workshop Meeting on Monday to come to an agreement on the Birchwood Development PILOT share.
The PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) was approved by the Township Committee for the Birchwood complex in May of 2018 with officials vowing to share a portion of it with the school district. Under the agreement, Birchwood Developers will pay the township 11 percent of its annual gross revenue for the next 30 years.
Township Commissioners went back and forth on details such as what percentage of the PILOT would go to the Board of Education and for how many years. Though Commissioners differed in opinions, they all agreed that they needed to "prime the pump" and offer a larger percentage early to allow the Board of Education to better prepare for the new influx of students. A demographer hired by the Board of Education estimated 99 students will be added to the school district when the Birchwood apartment complex is fully occupied.
The final agreement by the Township Commissioners and the Board of Education was to have a five-year audit period where the Board of Education receives 70% of the PILOT in years one and two, followed by 55% in years three, four, and five. The 70% number is to "prime the pump" and the 55% number is to mirror the typical 55% the Board of Education would receive from a tax bill.
Following the five-year period, there is expected to be a clearer picture as to how many new students entered the school district as a result of the Birchwood complex. From there, it may be decided if the 55% remains the same, increases, or decreases.
The representatives of the Board of Education thanked the Township Committee for taking the time to ensure everybody was happy and understood that they need to represent the whole town.
"I just wanted to say thank you. We recognize that you don't need to give anything to the district, though we never thought that was going to happen," said Carbone. "We appreciate the amount of thought and discussion that went into this."
The first reading of the ordinance is expected at the November 26 Township Committee Official Meeting.