Special aid to 3 area towns

Kearny, Harrison and Nutley are the only communities in The Observer coverage area that were awarded transitional aid by the state for 2015.

Kearny received $1.5 million, Harrison is getting $1.6 million and Nutley will see $5.5 million, according to Tammori Petty, spokeswoman for the state Department of Community Affairs.

Asked if any conditions had been attached by the state to those aid packages, Petty said that both Kearny and Harrison “will be required to execute another MOU (memorandum of understanding) outlining the terms for the aid.”

As for Nutley, “because their need arose from the departure of a single corporate taxpayer [the pharmaceutical giant Roche], they will not be subject to the same terms as other towns. Rather, the Division [of Local Government] is working with Nutley to restore ratables to the town from that site such that aid can be reduced each year,” Petty said.

In its application for transitional aid for 2015, Kearny said that without the aid, the owner of a house with an average assessment of $95,127 faced a tax increase of about $227. It blamed annual tax hikes on a reduced ratable base and lower surplus. Diminished staffing, it said, has triggered delayed services. “Construction permits are on a two-to-four-week turnaround; tree trimming [is] up to two months behind, etc.,” it said. The town figures to “generate savings” by negotiating terms for a “regional fire department” with Harrison.

Kearny continues to negotiate with several prospective developers for its South Kearny property. It anticipates Russo Development Co. of Carlstadt completing a residential project on Bergen Ave. for which it is to receive a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes), it is awaiting completion of construction of a new BJ’s Club on the east side of Passaic Ave. and it has designated Russo as redeveloper for a section of the west side of Passaic.

The Division of Local Government has assigned a fiscal monitor to both Harrison and Kearny and the monitor must approve all major expenditures, borrowing and hirings proposed by the towns.

– Ron Leir 

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