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Letter to the Editor: Concerns Arise Over Parsippany Council’s Handling of PILOTs: A Resident’s Perspective

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To the Editor:

I have just finished viewing the December 5th Council Agenda meeting in its entirety and several conclusions can be and should be drawn.

The Parsippany residents who sat through that multi-hour meeting are to be commended for their polite and intelligent comments and the questions they addressed to the Mayor and Town Council and the “experts” who showed up just hours before the Council planned to vote on the PILOTs.

The four Town Council members (Gragnatti, Carifi, DePierro, and Neglia) clearly and repeatedly demonstrated an astounding level of ignorance regarding the potential negative impact that PILOTs will have on current and future Parsippany residents. Whether that ignorance was due to their compulsive need to bow to Mayor Barberio’s dictates or just sheer laziness on their part is up for question.

Not once could Mayor Barberio and/or the Council member give a single example of what alternative development options had been considered other than the PILOTs. Nor could any of these elected officials articulate what if any questions or concerns they had raised during the extremely rushed process to review and approve the PILOTs before year-end and the incoming new Council.

Mr. Inglesinio, the developers’ highly paid attorney, expressed incredulity about how any citizen could not be in favor of supporting the Council and the Mayor in their rush to reward the developers with tax breaks that would span 30 years. What Mr. Inglesino failed to say was that given some additional time, a careful and independent financial and impact analysis, and a creative marketing strategy, perhaps a non-PILOT solution could be identified and implemented. Instead Mr. Inglisino, as his practice, utilized a false scare tactic implying that if the PILOTs weren’t approved then Parsippany stood to lose the pittance the developers were eagerly offering. 

With the passage of the PILOTs the municipality, in the person of Mayor Barberio, will get to determine how much of the about-to-be reduced taxes the schools will receive. Given the Mayor’s recent abject failure at managing the last two budget cycles and his bankrupting of Parsippany’s utilities the Board of Education will inevitably be forced to ask Parsippany, via a referendum, for the money required to educate Parsippany children including those who will be living in the residences built by the developers. The tax-strapped Mayor’s expressed willingness to “negotiate” with the Board of Education after ignoring them throughout the PILOT review process does not bode well for Parsippany residents or students.

The absolute failure of the Town Attorney and his firm and the financial “expert” hired by the Council to protect Parsippany’s best interests was shocking.  Hired just two weeks prior, the financial “expert” had virtually no impact on the negotiations with the developers.  Mr. Lavery’s colleague, a development “expert,” gave a general overview of the process by which development occurs, in New Jersey but couldn’t cite a single value add that he and/or Mr. Lavary had provided to Parsippany residents. The bottom line is that Parsippany residents’ interests were completely ignored due to either the implied or direct influence of the Mayor      

Mayor Barberio repeatedly and heatedly complained that “politics” was motivating anyone and everyone who disagreed with him including the dozens of Parsippany residents who spoke up at the Council meeting asking for more information and time to make a reasoned decision. It’s always somewhat bizarre to hear a politician, like Mayor Barberio, disparage his own chosen profession. One town resident suggested that Mayor Barberio was like Nero (another politician) fiddling while Rome burned. Perhaps the Emperor who thought he was wearing New Clothes is a more appropriate reference.

Finally, Councilman Musella truly distinguished himself with his knowledge, questions, and independence all of which served the residents of Parsippany. Perhaps Mayor Barberio and the other Council members will take notice of how best to serve Parsippany residents.

Bob Crawford
Montville

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Frank Cahill
Frank Cahillhttps://www.frankcahill.com
Publisher of Parsippany Focus since 1989 and Morris Focus since January 1, 2019, both covering a wide range of events. Mr. Cahill serves as the Executive Board Member of the Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce, President Kiwanis Club of Tri-Town, and Chairman of the Parsippany-Troy Hills Economic Development Advisory Board. Owner of the Morris now app serving small business in Morris County.
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