Hearing for Cottage Club's Tax-Exemption Bill Postponed
A bill to prevent Princeton University's Cottage Club from becoming a tax-exempt historic site that was scheduled to be heard on Monday at the State House in Trenton has been delayed until further notice. The delay was brought about by Monday's closing of all state buildings due to last weekend's flooding.
Sponsored by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora and Senator Shirley K. Turner, the bill would tighten the qualifications required for private buildings to be declared tax-exempt. The Cottage Club, one of the University's exclusive eating clubs, has been seeking historic status in order to free itself from paying Borough property taxes. This has led to Mr. Gusciora's bill, which would prevent this and all eating clubs from being granted historic status.
"The Cottage Club's only goal in gaining historic property status is to spare it from paying property taxes," said Mr. Gusciora. "It would be grossly unfair for the residents of Princeton to see their tax bills rise simply because a private-affiliated entity wants to be taken off the tax rolls."
Built in 1904, the Cottage Club's mansion has been assessed at $1.5 million, and pays more than $50,000 annually in property taxes to Princeton Borough. If this and the other 11 eating clubs at the University become exempt from property taxes, the Borough would lose more than $500,000 in revenue each year, said Mr. Gusciora.
Mr. Gusciora's bill, which was scheduled to be heard by the Senate Wagering, Tourism, and Historic Properties Committee, was previously passed by the Assembly on June 17. If passed by the state, the legislation would clarify and update the qualifications for non-profit organizations seeking to obtain a historic site property tax exemption on any certified historic site it owns.
Among its provisions, the bill would require the property be open to the general public for at least 96 days per year and to be managed by a non-profit organization that has a mission in historical research, preservation, and interpretation.