Annoyed Kenilworth resident inquires about taxes during council meeting

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KENILWORTH, NJ — During the open public portion of Kenilworth’s Borough Council meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 10, Kenilworth resident John Zimmerman asked the council about the affordable housing and tax abatement for seniors due to a project being done in Kenilworth — or, more specifically, how it would affect local taxes.

“I just finished discussing a plan to give a tax abatement to a redevelopment agreement for a property, I believe, at North 26th Street. If you could please tell me and the people here that are from the town of Kenilworth, what this is going to cost us as taxpayers?” asked Zimmerman on Wednesday, Nov. 10.

“It’s not going to cost us any money at all. We’re actually going to make money. It’s not going to cost any of the taxpayers anything,” answered Kenilworth Mayor Linda Karlovitch at the meeting.

Despite her reassurances, Zimmerman kept digging.

“Could you tell me what we expect to make in taxes, what are the abatements going to be or what the bottom line is going to be in this project?” he asked.

Karlovitch said she didn’t have all the details and numbers in front of her but would email the information to Zimmerman. The mayor then told him that Kenilworth had not complied with its affordable housing obligation for 40 years, and the borough is facing a builder’s remedy lawsuit if it did not comply. A builder’s remedy lawsuit can be filed by a developer to force a town to allow them to construct a large housing complex that includes affordable housing.

Karlovich said it would also generate money for the town.

But Zimmerman still wasn’t satisfied.

Regarding affordable housing, he said, “We’re not talking about the government setting the rate. Developers will make some units $3,000, some units $2,000 and there’s no senior citizens that can afford to pay $2,000, so those units will sit empty.”

The mayor disagreed with his statement, however.

“That is incorrect,” said Karlovitch. “It goes by the median income and there is some low and very low, so the seniors will qualify, as well as the other veteran preference, to get those units. (Regarding) the luxury units, you’re right. Most of the units are probably going to be $3,000 a month or maybe more, but there are 25 affordable units.”

After a discussion between Councilman Fred Pugliese and Karlovitch on this topic, the mayor made it clear that the project will happen, although Zimmerman’s final comment made clear his aggravation about paying taxes.

“I just can see this going on down at Seventh Street and I can see the taxpayers picking up the tab, and I pay enough taxes now living in Kenilworth and I don’t want to pay it anymore,” Zimmerman said.

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