To the Editor:
I was running for Freeholder in Sussex County in 2014, when a Town Administrator for the town of Newton called for a change in the tax-exempt status for Newton Memorial Hospital, now part of Atlantic Health Systems. One of Atlantic Health Systems key hospitals, Morristown Medical Center, lost a case on tax exempt status with the judge noting that several areas of the hospital were operating on a pay-for- profit status. This case now sets a precedent for other hospitals.
Indeed, that loss has now alerted some 60 other hospitals in the state to the notion that they might lose their tax exempt status. A bill in the Legislature has pushed for a compromise, according to the NJ Spotlight, which would seek to preserve the more than 100 year status of tax exemption, but the provisions would include fees over taxes, in the amounts of $2.50 per bed, and $250 per bed based on the degree of entangled non-profit and for- profit statuses.
In my run for freeholder, I felt that Newton, as the County Seat, was paying a great deal for police, fire, and other services arising from costs at Newton Memorial, and county government. I could see the same argument, in other County seats, such as, Hackensack in Bergen County. The argument also holds for the Morristown Medical Center, which again is tied to Newton Memorial.
This compromise, if passed, and signed could main some degree of funding of municipal services impacted by such medical centers, and their off-shoots, which seemingly have a degree of for- profit status, coupled with traditional non-profit status. Yet, it would also still provide tax exempt status in a different format, which is a compromise in my mind!.
Bill Weightman, Hardyston