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Parsippany Town Council holds emergency meeting over tax PILOT programs

There were contentious moments during a City Council meeting in Parsippany today as residents rallied in protest against PILOT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) projects in the town.

Naomi Yané

Dec 29, 2023, 3:10 AM

Updated 174 days ago

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There were contentious moments during a City Council meeting in Parsippany today as residents rallied in protest against PILOT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) projects in the town.
Thursday's meeting went on for hours, a continuation of a previous meeting that had to be shut down by the fire marshal because of capacity.
It started around 1 p.m. At one point, there were hundreds of residents inside the auditorium.
Council members were met with jeers from residents, as they geared up to vote on three PILOT projects.
Andrew Choffo is a school board member against the projects. "There’s simply no reason to give sweetheart deals to real estate developers to build residential properties under a PILOT project," says Choffo.
Mayor James Barberio says it's good business for the town. "I came in back in 2022, we were $8.5 million in the hole," says Barberio. "Our police department was down, so we need revenues to come in, and this is one way we can grab them."
PILOT is a state program dating back to the '70s. In short, it’s a long-term tax exemption. In this case, developers would benefit with a tax break by bringing their business to the town. Residents including one council member say it's a blow to the schools, because those businesses wouldn’t be paying toward school taxes for the duration of the agreement.
Justin Musella is the sole council member against the project. "They feel it's a slap in the face to themselves and to all the other businesses who pay the standard rate in the town," says Musella.
"If we don’t start to negotiate deals with developers, they’re going to go somewhere else," says Barberio. "And our vacancy rate is now at 35%. We continue to lose ... what happens is the shift goes to the residential taxpayer."
There were three PILOT projects slated to be voted on tonight, with each passing by a 4-1 vote.


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