PARSIPPANY — The Parsippany Board of Education released the following information:
PILOT Agreements = More Students and Larger Class Sizes
Please attend the next Town Council Meeting on Tuesday, December 19 at 7:00 p.m. at Parsippany Municipal Building, 1001 Parsippany Boulevard, to hear about two additional Payment In Lieu of Taxes (“PILOT”) programs the Town Council is considering for approval and to keep abreast of what is happening in the Town in terms of developments. It is imperative that all those interested in the well-being of our school district also attend the Town Planning Board meetings as there are more PILOT agreements in development. Use your voice to speak up for our students.
PILOTS Mean Students Lose in Multiple Ways
When development occurs in the Township, taxes on the improvements on the property generate an additional tax base. The School District would receive a portion of those taxes. When developments involve residential properties, those taxes offset the resulting increase in the number of students attending our schools. When the Township grants a PILOT agreement, the developer does not need to pay taxes on the improvements. Rather, an Annual Service Charge (“ASC”) is paid to the Township which keeps 95% of the monies, with the remaining 5% going to the County. The School District does not receive any portion of the ASCs even if those developments result in a greater number of students attending our schools.
While several other municipalities have been willing to share a portion of the ASCs that they have received from PILOTs to date, neither the Town Council nor any of the developers have been willing to commit to sharing a portion of the ASCs with our School District. Without additional taxes from improvements, a share of the ASCs, or other types of direct or indirect financial contributions from the developer or Town Council, tough decisions will need to be made to address the expected increase in the number of students that our schools will be asked to accommodate including, but not limited to:
● Adjusting School District policy to increase class sizes
● Significant decreases in funding for music, sports, and other extracurricular activities
● Tighter instructional spaces with more students
● Redistricting the elementary schools to balance the enrollment numbers across the district
Student Estimates from PILOTS.
Historically, the impact of Residential Developments brings more students than the developer has estimated. Modera, Watersedge, and Mountain Way are 200-unit, 30-unit, and 105-unit developments, respectively, and together the District receives at least 56 students from these locations, alone, and these are still not at full capacity.
No Recourse for Recently Approved PILOTS
The School Board considered and sought legal advice regarding its options to pause or reverse the implementation of the recently approved PILOT programs. However, in consideration of the statutory authority allowing the Township to enter these agreements, it is highly improbable that such litigation would be successful concerning the current PILOT agreements. The public should be aware that the approvals for these PILOTs do not include all the information that we believe is necessary for the Township to make informed decisions regarding the impact the PILOT agreements and developments will have on the School District, and ultimately the taxpayer.
Path Forward to Secure Funding for Our Students
Rather than pursue what will ultimately be futile legal intervention, the Board has determined to preserve monies in an attempt to maintain the programs and education that our students have come to expect for as long as possible. The Board will continue to attempt to partner with Township officials to:
● Negotiate for the developer and/or Township to provide/share financial payment(s) or in-kind donations to/with the School District for previous and recent residential PILOT agreements that have already been approved.
● Request that the Town Council consider passing an ordinance whereby the School District’s input as to the impact of any PILOT agreement is assessed and reserves a percentage of ASCs for the District’s use.
Attend the Parsippany-Troy Hills Township Council and Planning Board meetings to keep informed and speak up!