FIT to Oppose using Taxpayer funds for Public Housing

First, I want to thank all our loyal supporters for your generous donations to our Legal Defense Fund. After only a few weeks we are approaching $6,000! With your wonderful support, we’ll be able to replenish our legal funds so that we are ready for whatever legal costs we may have going forward.

This Saturday, the City will be hosting a workshop on Affordable Housing. Here’s the Mayor’s meeting announcement:

“At 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 12 at the Ocean City Tabernacle (550 Wesley Avenue), I will hold a town hall meeting to address our affordable housing obligations and plans. The state Supreme Court has ordered all municipalities in New Jersey to provide affordable housing for families, individuals and the elderly, and this requirement will represent a significant challenge in the coming years.

The Mayor will cover the settlement the city reached with the NJ Fair Share Housing Council over the summer. It included assessments on Affordable Housing and requires renovations to Pecks Beach Village and additional units at Bayview Manor (senior housing).

The aspect of the settlement that is most troublesome is the bail-out of the mismanaged and essentially bankrupt housing authority to the tune of 17 to 20 million dollars from OC taxpayers. Out of 200 communities that reached settlements with NJ Fair Share Housing, Ocean City is the only community where taxpayer dollars are being used for public housing.

In 2015, a viable alternative was available to the city and the housing authority in which a third party developer would have replaced all of Pecks Beach Village along with the additional units at Bayview Manor at no cost to the taxpayer. Despite strong, widespread support for the concept, it was not approved because Mayor Gillian was not provided with assurances that he would be able to exert control over who would be admitted to the housing projects. The City’s decision effectively left the taxpayer responsible for funding the housing authority. 

On November 28, 2018, Dave Breeden (FIT Vice President) and I met with the City Solicitor, Dottie McCrosson and stated that FIT’s position is that the city should not make taxpayers responsible for funding public housing. Because the City chose not to accept a viable proposal, they should be responsible for finding an alternative funding source to bail out an insolvent Housing Authority. During the meeting, we suggested bridge funding and grants as alternative funding sources, but the City had no interest in these ideas.

Subsequently, Mayor Gillian has not responded to our repeated requests for a one-on-one meeting to discuss our concerns. Clearly, if the City decides to move forward with a bond for $20 million to cover the costs of renovation of Pecks Beach Village and Bayview Manor, FIT will be in the right to move forward with a petition for another referendum. Judging from our success in the referendum on the Klause property just 2 months ago, we anticipate that we would prevail in getting 15% of the last election and would successfully stop the bonding process for the $20 million in funding.

David Hayes

President of Fairness in Taxes

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