Construction is well underway at Station Village at Avenel, a new transit-oriented, 500-unit rental community by Atlantic Realty Development Corp., as seen here in late February 2017. — Photo by Mary Iuvone for Real Estate NJ
By Joshua Burd
Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac is proud of the fact that, for all of the administration’s payment in lieu of taxes agreements with developers over the past decade, not one project has impacted the school system.
But Town Hall is still making sure that the school system is benefiting.
While not required by law to do so, the township has effectively earmarked 25 percent of its PILOT revenue for the school district going back more than a decade. That has helped fund some $27 million in improvements for school facilities that benefit the entire community, such as turf fields, new tennis courts and renovations to gymnasiums.
“It’s just a common-sense way to do it,” McCormac said. “I don’t see why more towns don’t have a better relationship between their board of ed and their town.”
But even as Woodbridge turns its focus toward residential and mixed-use development, McCormac has no plans to abandon its use of PILOTs as an incentive. Projects in the downtown will produce some school-aged children, but the administration has already earmarked a larger percentage of future PILOT revenue — totaling some $47 million — to help fund the construction of a new grammar school and an addition to a middle school.
What’s more, the town will reimburse the district for the incremental cost of every school-aged child that the residential projects produce, McCormac said. He doesn’t believe that there will many, given the transit-oriented nature of the projects, but he said it was important to do and was another benefit of using PILOTs to attract development.
“Without these incentives, those projects would have gone to towns around us and not Woodbridge,” McCormac said as part of his recent state of the township address. “But now we get the jobs, we get the cleaned-up sites and we get the tax revenue that we share with the school district, even though there is no requirement that we do so. It is simply the right thing to do.”