770 Jackson St. PILOT deal ‘has no effect’ on Hoboken charter school funding, mayor says

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Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla says that charter schools aren’t impacted by payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) revenues from 770 Jackson St., though 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos completely disagrees and believes this is a case of bait and switch.

Photo via Google Maps.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“By way of background, in 2016 Mayor Dawn Zimmer entered into a PILOT agreement, as approved by the Hoboken City Council, in connection with the development of a residential building at what is now 770 Jackson Street,” Bhalla said in a Nixle alert.

“As part of this agreement, the developer agreed to provide $52 million worth of community givebacks, including the resiliency park at 7th and Jackson, a children’s playground, a pedestrian plaza, underground flood infrastructure, 42 units of affordable housing, and a new basketball gymnasium.”

The mayor continued that he helped initiate a resolution that was approved by the council to authorize the city to make revenue payments to the public schools each year, noting that the state funding formula prohibits cities from doing a similar agreement with charter schools.

“As it pertains to the Hoboken Charter Schools, the PILOT payment has no effect on funding to which the charter schools are entitled,” Bhalla added.

“Charter schools are provided a payment each year from the Hoboken Public School District based strictly on a formula established by the State of New Jersey which is unaffected by any previous, current or future PILOT agreements.”

In a phone interview, Ramos said that he supported the PILOT agreement before the council in 2016, which was sponsored by 3rd Ward Councilman Mike Russo and then-Councilman-at-Large Dave Mello, since they discussed ensuring that all four school districts would benefit.

“The resolution was drafted knowing that the 1,000 or so students that attend the city’s charter schools were included in the financial analysis. Therefore, we should honor that commitment: kids are kids,” Ramos explained.

The city’s three charters are Elysian, HoLa, and Hoboken Charter, and representatives from those schools did not return inquiries seeking comment on Friday night.