After weeks with little to no movement regarding how to distribute approximately $243,000 in revenue from the 770 Jackson St. payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) deal, the Hoboken Board of Education tried to “demand” the full amount from the city – to no avail.
“As you know, the District is the only lawful recipient of the PILOT Funds in the first instance and, as such, we now demand, on behalf of the Board, turnover of such PILOT Funds,” Vito Gagliardi, counsel for the BOE, wrote in a November 30th letter to city Corporation Counsel Brian Aloia.
While the council had considered a measure to distribute the funding between the public and charter schools by a margin of about 80/20 (that measure was pulled), Gagliardi wrote that an August 20th letter noted this wouldn’t have been legal under state law.
While another resolution was introduced on November 5th, this time calling for the BOE to get the full allocation, the council again decided not to vote on the matter.
“To the extent there is sentiment calling for some portion of the PILOT Funds to be turned over to any or all of Hoboken’s charter schools, it is and should be abundantly clear that the only lawful course by which that can occur is for the Board to receive the entirety of the PILOT Funds on behalf of the ‘Hoboken School District,'” Gagliardi continued in the letter.
He also asserts that the New Jersey Department of Education is “the ultimate arbiter” of how PILOT funds are used in state funding formulas.
To that end, counsel says that if granted the PILOT funds, the BOE would welcome the role to communicate with the NJ DOE and charter school representatives to see how they could move forward without harming the school district.
If the city decides not to do this by their December 16th meeting, Gagliardi is threatening legal action.
“If the Board does not receive the PILOT Funds by December 16, 2020, the Board expressly reserves its rights to take any legal action necessary to ensure that the funds intended to benefit Hoboken students are obtained,” he said.
While they haven’t filed anything in court yet, Hoboken’s three charter schools, HoLa, Elysian, and Hoboken Public Charter, retained counsel shortly before the November 4th council meeting.
In response to Gagliardi, Aloia wrote on December 2nd said that the BOE has “no legal right” to demand any funding.
“Your ‘demand’ is denied as your client has no legal right or basis to demand the transfer of any funds from the City. The Council will determine the amount and timing of the transfer of funds, if any, that are provided to the Board,” he began.
” … I note that I am surprised by your letter as you previously represented that you were going to work with Mr. Artiles [counsel for the charter schools] collaboratively in an effort to determined how the Charter Schools could share in any funding that may be approved for transfer in the future by the Council.”
770 Jackson St. was previously an industrial building that has been converted into luxury rentals with 424 units in the building.
The city, via a council vote, entered into a PILOT agreement with the developer, Bijou Properties, back in 2016.