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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Levinson: Disagreement Among PILOT Bill Sponsors Illustrates its Flaws

Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson cited conflicting statements made by Senator Jim Whelan and Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo as a compelling example of how the PILOT legislation is confusing and contradictory and should not be signed into law by the Governor.

Levinson stated that on July 14 Vince Mazzeo, the Assembly sponsor of the PILOT legislation, is quoted in The Press saying that “I don’t think we should put that [a fixed amount] into the bill. That should always be a negotiation between the county and the city.” Levinson noted that in that same article it pointed out that at a meeting of the Atlantic County Mayor’s Association, Mazzeo expressed support for a 13.5% cost sharing arrangement that was agreed upon by Levinson and Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian in January 2015.

However, in the Philadelphia Inquirer (August 13) Senator Whelan, the Senate sponsor of the legislation, said completely the opposite. According to the Inquirer report, Whelan disputed the claim by Atlantic County mayors that the legislation is vague about the percentage and cited a section of the bill that he said indicates “that the current 11% rate would apply.”

“Even the sponsors of the bill, who share a legislative office, cannot agree on what the county taxpayer share of the PILOT should be,” said Levinson. “Mazzeo says there is no fixed amount in the legislation. Whelan says there is. How are 23 municipalities supposed to agree on something so ambiguous? As it is written now, the PILOT legislation is too open to interpretation and subject to ongoing dispute.”

Levinson challenged Senator Whelan to show anyone exactly where in the legislation it fixes the county share at 11 percent.

“That is why we tried to reach a negotiated agreement. No responsible individual would sign a financially binding, 15-year agreement without knowing up front what it might cost. I will not put the county taxpayers in that position and hopefully the Governor won’t either,” said Levinson.

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