The $500,000 Question Answered: Cottage Club Is Not Tax-Exempt
Acting Governor Richard Codey signed a bill into law last week that will prevent private historic establishments in New Jersey such as Princeton University's eating clubs from obtaining tax-exempt status. By maintaining that all eating clubs must pay full taxes on their sites, the bill, which was sponsored by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Princeton Borough) and Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Trenton), will save Princeton Borough more than $500,000.
Passed by the state Senate in mid-December and signed into law by the acting governor on December 22, the legislation requires that a non-profit organization seeking to obtain a historic site property tax exemption on any historic site it owns must be open to the general public at least 96 days per year and have a mission in historic research, preservation and interpretation. No University eating club can satisfy that requirement. An establishment on Prospect Avenue in the Borough that is open only to current University members, alumni, and invited guests, the Cottage Club had been seeking tax exemption since being entered into the New Jersey Register of Historic Places in September 1999. Built in 1904 and assessed at $1.5 million, the club pays more than $50,000 annually in property taxes to the Borough.
At the time of the bill's passing, Mr. Gusciora, a Borough resident and taxpayer, called it "an early Christmas present for taxpayers in Princeton Borough."
The $500,000-plus includes taxes paid by the 11 other University eating clubs.
"We're very pleased," said Borough Mayor Joe O'Neill, citing the many historic properties in town."This has really saved the Borough taxpayer."