SHELTER GIVES RED BANK A HANDOUT

[UPDATE: Please see clarification at the bottom of this article]

By JOHN T. WARD

Heeding the sound of Red Bank’s rattling tin cup, a fifth nonprofit has made a cash contribution to the town lieu of taxes.

Habcore Inc., which provides shelter and other services to the homeless and disabled  on South Pearl Street, has cut a check for $9,900, Mayor Pasquale Menna said Wednesday.

In addition, a comparable sum has been pledged by another charity that he could not yet publicly identify, Menna said.

Habcore’s donation follows a renewal by Menna of a campaign to relieve borough taxpayers of some of the costs of supporting social service and religious education facilities that benefit an area beyond the town’s borders.

Menna has floated two proposals: tax nonprofits for newly acquired properties in towns deemed to be “regional centers” where at least 15 percent of the land area is now exempt; or create a mechanism whereby such towns would be compensated for hosting charities, either through state or Monmouth County coffers.

The sum given by Habcore exceeds what it would have owed the town if its holdings were not exempt from taxes.

Habcore officials could not be reached for immediate comment.

On South Pearl, Habcore  has a 4,400-square-foot residence with an assessed value of $632,900. Property records show Habcore also owns 119 River Street, valued at $358,900. Combined, at the current local tax rate of 51 cents per $100, Habcore would only have owed the town $5,058 had those properties been on the tax rolls.

Red Bank also gets annual contributions from Riverview Medical Center, the town’s largest nonprofit, which gives $200,000 a year; the Monmouth Boat Club ($5,000); the Navesink River Rowing club, though it does not own any property ($2,000); and Wesleyan Arms senior citizens’ housing project on Wall Street. Wesleyan Arms contributes a fixed percentage of its rent collections, Menna said, though he and other officials did not have the sum handy Wednesday night.

[UPDATE AND CLARIFICATION: Steven Heisman, executive director of Habcore, says that organization’s payment to the town is not new. Habcore, he says, has been making payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs) to Red Bank for 25 years under contract, including one signed in 2005 and expiring in 2015. It does the same in Asbury Park, where it also owns property. “We do use borough services, and so we should help out,” he told redbankgreen Thursday morning. “I don’t want people to look at Habcore as a drain on the community.”

Heisman said he had written Menna a letter recently to remind him of the agrement because Menna had called out other nonprofits that made payments to Red Bank without mentioning Habcore.

Asked Monday why he had framed the payment as a new contribution, Menna, however, said he was unaware of the PILOT contact between Habcore and Red Bank. “I don’t look at every single tax notice, he said.]