What ever happened to the $263k in tax breaks issued to residents near the Bayonne Bridge?

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Back in 2016, the City of Bayonne issued tax reductions for 135 individual blocks and/or lots totaling $262,988 for residents that live near the Bayonne Bridge. The notion of whether or not the taxpayers will absorb these costs is being disputed.

Photo via the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“This project, currently in progress at the direction of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), has caused a severe decrease in quality of life for all who reside in the identified impact zone,” Mayor Jimmy Davis wrote in a February 2, 2016 letter to downtown residents.

” … I wish to inform you that that in light of the undesirable external conditions caused by this project the City of Bayonne will be temporarily reducing the taxable assessment on your home by 20%.”

While the $1.3 billion Bayonne Bridge project was supposed to be completed by 2017, officials and residents were informed in October 2015 that the large-scale endeavor – a Port Authority initiative with Skanska Koch and Kiewit Infrastructure Co. performing construction – was delayed until 2019.

The project was finally completed in February of last year, the city acknowledged that the reduced assessments, issued on February 1st, 2016, had not expired as of November 15th, 2019, according to an email distributed to the media by former council candidate Peter Franco.

“While I am certainly empathetic towards the nightmare residents in the impact zone faced since construction began, construction has been completed and conditions have been improved in all areas for at least eight to 12 months,” Franco said in a statement.

“I am additionally concerned that the city’s decision to keep these lowered assessments in place longer than initially intended (as we are in the middle of a citywide property revaluation) could cause greater harm to the residents these reductions were granted to help.”

Franco also accused the city of costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, though city spokesman Joe Ryan responded that the city’s taxes for 2019 were were assessed as of October 1st, 2018.

Since bridge construction was still underway at that point, the assessments could not be altered, according to Ryan, who went on to say that the 2020 assessment was altered accordingly.

“The city is owed only what should be paid based on the value of the properties. There were temporary adjustments in assessments to reflect real world market values in that zone at the time of construction,” Ryan told HCV in an email.

“Construction activity had a temporary negative impact on property values. The properties were assessed and taxed fairly during the construction period. As such, the city did not ‘lose money.’ It received what it should have according to assessed value. In 2020, assessments on the properties will reflect current 100 percent market value.”

Bayonne is currently conducting a tax revaluation, utilizing the services of the firm Appraisal Systems, which has performed revals for other Hudson County municipalities such as Guttenberg, Weehawken, and Jersey City.

The last Bayonne reval was conducted back in 1991.

At a public hearing in February, Joseph Nichols, Bayonne’s tax assessor, and Mark Duda, the Vice President of Appraisal Systems, said there are 14,000 residential and commercial properties that have to be assessed before October 1st of this year in order for the city to determine their taxes.

Ryan did not specify if the 100 percent market value assessment would be done as part of the revaluation process.