Corporate Tax Break Added To City Debt, Paints Diaz As A Republican

PERTH AMBOY — Adding to a long list of positions that place her philosophy in line with Republicans Mitt Romney and George W. Bush, a progressive Democratic advocate accused Mayor Wilda Diaz of giving Chevron a 44 percent savings off their property tax bill with an almost $100 million reduction in the assessed property value, a year before the company sold the refinery for $260 million, or almost 25 percent more than its original assessment.

“Wilda Diaz reduced the Chevron assessment from $211 million to $119 million, while the parcel was in fact worth $260 million,” said Jerry Hernandez, who is a member of the progressive advocacy group, “The corporate oil giant should have gotten a 25 percent tax increase, but instead the Mayor put taxpayers in debt for an $8 million refund.”

“This is another example of the terrible abuses taking place in our city assessor’s office that robs working homeowners to put more money in the pockets of people who do not deserve it,” said Hernandez.

Hernandez noted that Diaz herself got an $800 tax savings as a result of a reduction in her property assessment, while the total tax levy for municipal purposes has nearly doubled since she became Mayor.

“Republicans who advocate lower taxes for the richest one percent of the population and corporations, are starving the government’s ability to provide for fundamental needs of the people,” said Hernandez. “That’s why we have a gaping deficit and that’s President Obama is having such a tough time fostering an economic recovery. It is like Robin Hood in reverse.”

While Diaz contends that Chevron wanted a $12 million refund, her administration failed to fight for taxpayers in court and instead agreed to borrow $8 million to issue a return that now appears to be undeserved.

The Chevron tax appeal was based on the assessed value of the property, which was purchased for $260 million by Buckeye Partners, L.P., one of America’s chief petroleum distributors.

“If somebody paid $260 million for the Chevron property, then that is what it is worth,” said Hernandez, who says he supported Diaz four years ago but she has failed to earn a second term.

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