The following letter to the editor was submitted by Mike Vernotico, Democratic Candidate, Summit Common Council, Ward 2
Merck’s decision to leave Summit and consolidate in Kenilworth will impact our property taxes. Real estate values for commercial property are calculated differently than residential. Residential values are simply sales prices. Commercial value is based on the income the property produces. If the Merck property sits vacant, either partially or totally, the value, hence the assessment, decreases thereby diminishing the property taxes. This is what happened when Schering-Plough purchased the property several years ago and let it sit idle for years. Summit lost millions in property taxes.
Council needs to stop wasting money on foolish parking studies and Parking Ambassadors. Our main issue going forward is not the Downtown, it is the Merck Campus. We must immediately put together a task force of the leaders of the community, including members of the Zoning Board, Planning Board and Council to address two key issues. First is to do a series of assessed value calculations to determine potential tax impacts over time. Secondly, and more importantly, is the future use of the 88 acre campus which now produces $9 million in tax revenues. There is a strong probability that a single user will not be found and the campus may likely need to be subdivided. A plan needs to be put in place now to give Merck the capability of selling off pieces if a single user cannot be found. It will assist in the sale and more importantly bring in tax revenues more quickly. As a real estate developer, I know how to do that and can get it done.
They will be moving out through 2015. If we wait, re-zoning could take a year or more, a year of significantly reduce tax revenues. We simply cannot afford that. We need to act immediately and please – let’s stop wasting tax dollars on parking studies and get rid of that ridiculous parking system that is hurting our residents, the downtown and our merchants. We need to attract businesses, not deter them. No study needed here.
Democratic Candidate, Summit Common Council, Ward 2