Last month, we won an important court case. We persuaded Superior Court Judge Michael Blee to knock out a new state law that would give big tax breaks to Atlantic City casinos at the expense of everyone else in the county. Judge Blee agreed that the new law violated the New Jersey State Constitution.
However, Governor Murphy is not accepting that decision. His lawyers are moving to “stay” or immediately set aside Judge Blee’s ruling while they take an appeal. If they succeed, casinos can delay paying the extra taxes they owe for years. Then, the casinos will claim extra “hardship” and “disruption” if they are later forced to pay those back taxes.
The New Jersey State Constitution clearly provides that public schools, local government, and county government are to be funded by taxes on real estate. All real estate is to be “assessed by the same method” and “taxed at the same rate”. Our State Constitution allows certain discounts for veterans, farmers, senior citizens and the “redevelopment” of “blighted” areas. Casinos do not qualify for any of those discounts.
The details of the new state law are complicated. However, the effects of that law are simple. Most property owners in Atlantic City and the rest of Atlantic County have seen their property taxes increase since 2015. The new state law basically freezes the property taxes of Atlantic City’s nine casinos at their 2015 levels for another five years. As a result, Atlantic City casinos, which once paid more than half of Atlantic City’s property taxes will now pay only about 40%.
To win the political support of Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small, the new state law gives extra casino tax money to Atlantic City government, even though the casinos are paying less. That “magic” is done by paying much less casino money to the Atlantic County and the Atlantic City Public Schools. That causes higher tax bills for everyone in Atlantic County.
The motion to “stay” Judge Blee’s order will be heard on October 7. I must respond to that motion in writing by next Wednesday, September 28. Because I have no staff and am volunteering my time, I need help.
First, although I am not being paid for my legal work, the time I am spending on this case is time I am not spending raising funds for LibertyAndProsperity.com. If you have not yet paid dues or made a donation this year, please help us now.
Second, the lawyer for the State is arguing that the casinos will suffer “hardship” if they have to pay more real estate taxes now than they did in 2015. I would like to present evidence that non-casino businesses and homeowners did in fact suffer hardship because their taxes did go up since 2015. I know of many successful family businesses like Ward’s and Voltaco’s in Ocean City, and Gasparre’s in Egg Harbor Township that were forced to close down. I know there are many others. Can you tell me about them?
Did you or someone in Atlantic County you know suffer hardship because of high real estate taxes since 2015? If so, can you give me details so I can include them in my answering papers? If so, please call my law office at 609-927-7333 or email me at email@example.com. Thanks.
Seth Grossman, Attorney
453 Shore Road
Somers Point, NJ 08244