Two fire trucks have been relocated out of town and another sits beneath a tent since the firehouse, in the background, was condemned. Former Mayor Jo-Ann Kalaka-Adams, below. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
Fast-forward to now. Kalaka-Adams may start collecting $4,500 a month in rent from the borough for a vacant lot, even though she owes the town $40,000 in overdue property taxes, according to the Asbury Park Press.
The lot, on Ocean Avenue at Peninsula Avenue, would serve as the home to a temporary firehouse, which is needed because the existing firehouse has been condemned as unsafe because of damage from Hurricane Sandy.
The borough council authorized the deal in March, and Mayor Dina Long – who had a chilly face-off with Kalaka-Adams on election night 2011 – has been tasked with negotiating the terms of the lease. Long has been quoted elsewhere as saying she is “100-percent opposed” to the plan, but would negotiate in the best interest of the borough.
Also opposed is Councilman Marc Leckstein, who tells the Press that the borough shouldn’t be doing business with anyone who owes it money if there are other options.
From the Press:
“It is just something you don’t do. You shouldn’t be entering into an agreement with someone who is delinquent on their taxes when every other taxpayer in town is paying their share.”
[Councilman James LoBiondo, who heads the firehouse siting committee] said the tax issue was a concern the committee discussed. It wasn’t a deterrent for him because his duty was to find the best location from a public safety standpoint for the firehouse.
The committee never discussed forgiving the back taxes, but rather said the back tax bill on the Peninsula Avenue property, $14,115 including the second quarter 2014 bill, would be brought current by the time the lease is signed, LoBiondo said.
LoBiondo, [Councilman Brian] Kelly and Leckstein said the lease agreement Long is negotiating could include a provision that requires the rental payments go toward the remainder of the back taxes until they are paid. LoBiondo said it also would include a requirement that Kalaka-Adams remain current on all Sea Bright taxes during the term of the lease.
Long declined to talk about those negotiations because they are ongoing. “I’m protecting the borough’s interest,” she said. “It’s a work in progress.”
Kalaka-Adams did not respond to requests for comment, the Press reported.