After nearly 30-minutes of discussion and obvious uncertainty over how a tax abatement would be carried out, the Atlantic City Council Wednesday approved by a vote of 5-to1, the third and final reading of an ordinance designating the 2014 Urban Revitalization Area. Councilpersons Cord, Hartkoph, Halder, Somers and Hayes voted yes. Councilman Chris Jimerson voted against the motion, while Councilperson Lori Stuart was absent from the proceedings.
City Administrator Doug Harris and Mayor Dave Jones were at odds over what the City’s legal position is, with regard to tax abatement’s being retroactive to Jan. 1st, 2014, for building permits obtained on and after that date. Harris said the issue isn’t the ordinance itself, but its implementation. Harris said the there is a different understanding between the key players involved the abatement decision: Bob Josten (The City’s Legal Counsel), City Attorney Dave Wiederstein, and County Assessor Brenda Nelson.
Attorney Bob Jostens’ legal opinion in the matter, was that abatement’s cannot be retroactive, but Jones said the County Assessor would make that determination, and the Council would have to approve each abatement request made following an assessment. Harris said the City would be opening a “Can of worms.” He asked the Mayor how does the City determine the increase in value of properties where building permits were issued after Jan. 1st, 2014. Jones said it’s based on “luck.”
Harris said the Attorney’s say the City can’t abate value created prior to Sept. 3rd, 2014…the date the Ordinance was approved. Jones said if a building permit was issued in 2013, the property owner would not qualify for abatement in 2014. He said if the were issued the permit in 2014, then “They got lucky…that’s the best way you can put it.”
According to the City of Atlantic’s Urban Revitalization Plan, a person making improvements on an existing home located south of 14th street, will be able to apply for a 100-percent tax abatement of the added value up to $75,000. For new homes built south of 14th Street the first $75,000 of tax value would be abated for a period of five years. Those with residences north of 14th Street, both new construction or rehabilitation, will get 100-percent of that taxable value abated over a period of five years. Duplexes will also be eligible for tax abatement’s under the ordinance. Commercial construction is the same throughout the entire city based on a sliding scale up to the first $250,000 in value. It starts out at 80-percent of the value, then 70-percent, 60, 50 and finally 40-percent.
In other business, the Council approved the second reading of an Ordinance amending the City’s Code of Ordinances by making a slight language change in the section pertaining to Speed Regulations. A motion was then made and seconded to waive the third reading and approve the Ordinance as amended. The vote was all-in-favor.
The Council also approved a change order between the City and AAA Budget Environment, for the mitigation and disposal of additional asbestos materials on the property located at 611 Linn Street. The change order amounts to $1,554. City Administrator Doug Harris said the last months heavy rains slowed down progress on street projects, but work is expected to resume on those projects next week, where it hasn’t already begun.