Rep. Bill Pascrell, who in the hotly contested race for the Democratic nomination in New Jersey’s newly redrawn 9th Congressional District, visited Fort Lee recently to meet with delegates from the borough’s high-rise buildings and town home communities—members of the Fort Lee Co-Op & Condo Association (FLCCA).
Pascrell met with delegates from 16 buildings and some guests—about 30 people in total—to discuss their concerns and suggestions before the association’s business meeting on Aug. 20 at the Colony in Fort Lee, according to FLCCA secretary and treasurer Marvin J. Rothenberg.
“People were generally pleased with what [Pascrell] had to say,” Rothenberg told Patch, adding that he was “most pleased” that Pascrell, a member of the House Ways and Means and Budget Committees, said “that he would never vote to eliminate the income tax deduction allowed for mortgage payments, as has been suggested by some economic studies.”
“He [said] that he also would not vote to eliminate the property tax deduction, noting that property taxes and mortgage interest payments account for about a third to a half of the total expenses included in the maintenance paid by many of Fort Lee’s high rise occupants,” Rothenberg said.
Pascrell also told the FLCCA delegates that local governments, especially those in New Jersey, have faced “push backs from above,” according to Rothenberg.
“The federal government has been pushing back on the states, and the states have been pushing back on the municipalities,” Rothenberg explained. “While there are some exceptions, New Jersey municipalities currently cannot raise taxes more than 2 percent.”
But, Rothenberg noted, municipalities are not able to control all of the costs they face, noting, for example, that utility rates are not capped.
“The Congressman said that priorities need to be set for spending purposes,” Rothenberg said. “It was also noted that the formula for state aid is based on owner occupied homes, but that co-ops are treated as rentals by the formula.”
Fort Lee is therefore “penalized in the amount of state aid it receives” for its large proportion of co-ops, according to Rothenberg.
“[Pascrell’s] conclusion was there has to be a stop to the dogma and nobody giving ground; there has to be compromise,” Rothenberg said. “Unfortunately, in many of our governments in co-ops and so forth, there are too many people who have never had any corporate experience and don’t know the art of compromise and what can be done with it.”
Rothenberg also said Englewood Rabbi , who won the Republican nomination in the 9th Congressional District and will face Pascrell in November, asked to meet with FLCCA and will therefore meet with delegates at their meeting in October.
Rothenberg said FLCCA’s original mission statement is “non-political,” but that several years ago the association decided it should “take stands,” primarily on issues, but not necessarily on candidates.
“Obviously if one candidate or another is behind the same issue that we’re for, we’re for that guy,” Rothenberg said. “But we actually have not yet come out directly and said, ‘Vote for X’ in anything, [although] we’ve gotten very close to it.”
He added, “Since this is a national office, we probably would not endorse [a candidate] because our function is primarily for anything that affects us on local and state issues.”
FLCCA’s membership represents a majority of Fort Lee’s population who reside in high-rise buildings and town home communities.
“A unique characteristic of Fort Lee is that 60 percent of its population is housed in these complexes,” according to FLCCA, which was formed more than a decade ago.