The Town of Harrison is now the “owner” of Red Bull Arena.
Technically, Harrison holds the tax lien on the stadium and, again technically, if no taxes are paid on the property, the town could foreclose on the property and take possession.
That’s made possible as a result of a special tax sale the town held Feb. 10 for the stadium occupied by the New York Red Bulls professional soccer team at Frank Rodgers Blvd. South and Cape May St. for which the town says it’s owed more than $3 million in property taxes covering part of 2010 and all of 2011.
No one showed up at the sale to redeem the taxes or to bid for the tax lien for the stadium, according to town Tax Collector Anna Nicosia.
“I still have high hopes they (the Red Bulls) will come at some point and pay us,” she said.
The Red Bulls’ owners have contended they owe nothing because both the land and stadium, in their opinion, is exempt from taxes and the team’s owners sued the town over that issue.
But N.J. Tax Court Judge Christine Nugent ruled that not only was Harrison entitled to taxes on the stadium, it could also tax the land on which the stadium sits, even though it’s publicly-owned, because the Red Bulls are a private, profit-making enterprise.
The team owners are asking the state Appeals Court for an expedited hearing to challenge Nugent’s decision and, at the same time, are asking Nugent to “stay” her ruling so they don’t have to immediately pay the taxes demanded by the town, pending their continuing legal battle with Harrison.
At the same time, the town’s special counsel Norman Doyle Jr. has petitioned Nugent to deny the Red Bulls a stay, arguing that they shouldn’t be allowed to slide now that Nugent has ruled that the stadium isn’t tax-exempt.
If, down the road, the appellate court should reverse Nugent’s opinion, the Red Bulls can get a refund at the appropriate time, Doyle reasoned, but they should be compelled to pay now. Or, if the appeals court upholds Nugent’s decision, then the Red Bulls can petition the Hudson County Tax Board for tax appeal.
Meanwhile, the owners have until April 12 to contest their taxes for 2012, noted Harrison Tax Assessor Al Cifelli.
If you’re an out-of-town motorist driving in Bloomfield and you’re in an accident, you could be twice unlucky.
The township governing body has voted to introduce an ordinance that would assess non-Bloomfield residents a $100 “response fee” if their car is involved in an accident that requires township police, fire or emergency vehicles to respond.
Township Administrator Yoshi Manale said that proof of residence would be determined by the driver’s license.
During 2011, there were about 1,800 traffic accidents logged by the Bloomfield Police Department that tied up township public safety/emergency workers for countless hours, Manale said.
How many of those accidents involved out-of-town drivers is impossible to tell, Manale said.
Manale said he recommended the proposal to the mayor and Township Council after reading about a similar action implemented by New York.
The Township Council was scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposed law on Feb. 21.