City Council approved a $760,000 budget for an expanded Special Improvement District (SID) as well as a revised roster of affected properties.
The Rahway Arts District (RAD), which has overseen the SID budget since 2010, is scheduled to meet July 7 at 5 p.m. in the RAD office, Suite 204, 1544 Irving St. The 12-member board is expected to discuss the SID budget, according to board President Joel Schwartz.
The budget (AR-119-15) and property roster (O-12-15) were introduced by City Council during a special meeting on May 14. The final budget (AR-122-15) and ordinance were approved with no changes made at the June 16 meeting by an 8-0 vote (6th Ward Councilman Ray Giacobbe, Jr. was absent). The governing body first approved an ordinance in December to expand the SID citywide along with a roster of affected properties (O-42-14). Two properties in that original list were mis-classified and removed.
The SID, which will expand from 138 properties downtown to 544 properties citywide, will be the largest among 10 in Union County, surpassing Westfield ($410,273 last year) and Elizabeth (whose two SIDs total more than $450,000). The previous SID covering only commercial properties generated about $130,000 annually. The tax rate for the special assessment, which also will include industrial and multi-family rental apartment dwellings, will be $0.2518 per $100 of assessed value compared with $0.300 in the previous SID.
Fanwood-based attorney William Michelson, representing Friends of Rahway Business, LLC, in a lawsuit against the SID expansion, was among only a few people who spoke during the public hearing on the SID budget. In a brief telephone interview this week, he said the governing body was “putting the cart before the horse.” He said he tried to make the point to Council that if there is a problem with the entity — the lawsuit argues, among other things, that a single, non-contiguous citywide SID is illegal — that should be resolved before giving it more funding.
Michelson argued that the additional tax should not be collected because it could be struck down in litigation. He expects to file an injunction before tax bills are sent.
(Michelson, of Plainfield, is running for 22nd District Assembly on the Republican ticket this fall against former Mayor James Kennedy and Assemblyman and Union County Democratic Chairman Jerry Green of Plainfield.)
For a look at how the SID/RAD plans to spend its funding, see this previous post from when the budget was introduced.