Fact Check: Keith Furman

3/24/2010:

Do you know who Keith Furman is?

As the newly appointed Vice Chairman of the Hoboken Planning Board, Furman is a powerful public official open to fair scrutiny of his political activities. That includes his eyebrow-raising public performance at last week’s City Council meeting. A major campaign contributor who led the charge for higher taxes two years ago is now the chief apologist for the failure to cut taxes this year, even though Furman pays a fixed PILOT on his own home.

It’s time for full disclosure, and another Hoboken411 Fact Check.

First, the Furman comment that sparked this post

The Zimmer slate ran on a “Detailed plan to cut taxes by 25% in the first year alone.”

Instead they passed a budget last week with no real relief. They knew they’d take hits for this during the annual public hearing on the budget, so Team Zimmer mobilized a few allies to change the subject. Keith Furman was one. He escorted Councilwoman Carol Marsh into the council chambers and signed up to speak.

Furman’s assignment: read the Zimmer talking points for her council colleagues to refer back to later, and take a few shots at the opposition before surrendering the microphone:

Did you catch that line about needing tax relief? Buried in the spin, Furman uttered these words:

“We all desperately need tax relief.” – Keith Furman, 3/17/2010

Actually, Keith Furman doesn’t “desperately need tax relief” because Keith Furman lives in a tax abated building. Even if Zimmer had kept her promise to cut taxes, Furman’s Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) on his Northwest Redevelopment Zone apartment would stay the same.

Living with PILOTs means freedom from tax hikes

Furman lives at 1200 Grand, an Ursa/Tarragon development with a 20-year PILOT. Furman pays no School, County or Open Space taxes. He only pays a deeply discounted PILOT to the city. When taxes go up, Furman is unaffected. Even if taxes go down, his PILOT holds steady. That stability adds to the marketability and value of his condo.

This isn’t the first time Furman has played it loose with his own property tax status, either. Ahead of the runoff election last June, Furman wrote a letter to the weekly paper. The second line began with the words, “Our taxes were dramatically increased…” Furman’s taxes didn’t increase at all, let alone dramatically, but it added drama to his letter to avoid the facts of his own PILOT.

PILOTS, Open Space Tax, and appointments

Tax records indicate Furman purchased his PILOT’ed condo in January of 2007, but it’s been reported he lived in Hoboken 9 years before that.

1200 Grand is across the street from the former Henkel/Cognis property often discussed as a potential park. The problem? No money to pay for it. When Mayor Dave Roberts proposed a new Open Space Tax in 2007, council members Zimmer and Cunningham pounced on the issue. Furman co-chaired the “Vote Yes For Parks” initiative with his significant other Sandra Reinardy.

This put him in the uniquely Hoboken position of living in a PILOTed building while simultaneously leading the charge for a new tax.

After the jump, see over $4000 in Zimmer campaign contributions, Furman’s appointments by Zimmer, and what the future may hold.

(Keith Furman Fact Check, continued…)

Over $4k in Zimmer Team Campaign Contributions

Furman is among the largest single contributors to Zimmer’s campaigns. The New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission says Furman donated $3681 between March and November, with Reinardy kicking in another $600. When Zimmer became Mayor she rewarded his loyalty with a spot on the Planning Board. Furman was also named chairman of Zimmer’s inaugural, which included a game of musical dates and times. Furman is one of several large campaign contributors appointed to boards by Zimmer and her majority, sparking criticism of an alleged “Pay-to-Play” appointments mentality.

Signs posted after Furman complains about new camera

You know the new second camera recently set up for City Council meetings? Furman complained because it shows members of the public in the audience at a public meeting. Furman managed to get over his camera shyness last week to deliver a political message. He never mentioned his ties to the Zimmer campaign, or his appointment by Zimmer to the Planning Board during his speech.

A future appointed Fifth Ward Councilman?

City Hall sources say the bearded Furman is often seen coming and going from the Mayor’s office. Rumors are swirling that current 5th ward Councilman Peter Cunningham might throw his name in the ring to be the next city Business Administrator. That would create an open seat Furman could be a candidate to fill. Already a trusted ally of the Mayor, Furman would be counted on to continue the rubber stamp voting pattern Zimmer has enjoyed so far from her 5-member majority.

So now you know a bit more about Keith Furman… at least enough to put his public comments into proper context.

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16 Comments on "Fact Check: Keith Furman"

blahblahblah
Member
blahblahblah

BTW, what furman pays in taxes i can rack up as a bill at a good restaurant..,.,the nerve of these cry babies….thank god its only four short years.,..but then again the circus remains and new cast of clowns come in

jerzygirl12
Member
jerzygirl12

Just to be clear on PILOT payments in the Upper Grand buildings where Keith lives…they do go up. They get recalculated each time a unit owner turns over. So basically if you bought your unit pre-construction from the developer at a low price, then you get corresponding PILOT payments (these are the people who are paying the lowest PILOTS in town). However, if you bought your unit several years later from the original owner at fair market prices (to what units are selling for now) then you pay PILOTs based on your selling price and thus your payments go up.

Therefore, Keith probably isn’t really benefitting much from paying PILOTs instead of taxes because he’s paying a higher rate than what his previous owner paid which is probably in line with fair market value. He’s actually penalized because the process of recalculating taxes based on selling price doesn’t happen anywhere else in Hoboken EXCEPT the Upper Grand PILOT buildings.

lhoward222
Member
lhoward222

What I find most disturbing in this article is the mention that “Rumors are swirling that current 5th ward Councilman Peter Cunningham might throw his name in the ring to be the next city Business Administrator.”

I voted for Peter believing he would represent our ward for his entire term. If his seat becomes vacant, we should get to vote on replacement not get forced an appointment. Now I am feeling really duped with this administration…like this was all a long-planned musical chairs game. My naivety is gone, but how on Earth can one vote for a representative when, despite an intelligent person’s best efforts to investigate and learn candidates’ backgrounds, they simply are not up-front and honest? Lord.

I hope the rumors do not come to fruition.

KenOn10
Member
KenOn10

I also hope these rumors are untrue. Using a council position to jump to full-time employment by the city smells rotten… and any replacement councilman would surely be a total yes-man (or woman)… and Mr. Furman sure sounds like the mayor’s official apologist.

OTOH, as for Mr. Furman advocating for the Open Space tax he wouldn’t have to pay: big f’deal. It’s a pittance and it’s for a good cause and Hoboken voters approved it.

In response to lhoward222 who said:
What I find most disturbing in this article is the mention that “Rumors are swirling that current 5th ward Councilman Peter Cunningham might throw his name in the ring to be the next city Business Administrator.”

I voted for Peter believing he would represent our ward for his entire term. If his seat becomes vacant, we should get to vote on replacement not get forced an appointment. Now I am feeling really duped with this administration…like this was all a long-planned musical chairs game. My naivety is gone, but how on Earth can one vote for a representative when, despite an intelligent person’s best efforts to investigate and learn candidates’ backgrounds, they simply are not up-front and honest? Lord.

I hope the rumors do not come to fruition.

lhoward222
Member
lhoward222

Look at Peter’s bio. He wouldn’t be coming on-board City dole for the money. One of the reasons I voted for him. Smart, makes his money outside of town, independent–or so I thought.
http://www.hobokennj.org/council/members/peter-cunningham/

I just fear who they would appoint to replace him.

In response to KenOn10 who said:
I also hope these rumors are untrue. Using a council position to jump to full-time employment by the city smells rotten… and any replacement councilman would surely be a total yes-man (or woman)… and Mr. Furman sure sounds like the mayor’s official apologist.

OTOH, as for Mr. Furman advocating for the Open Space tax he wouldn’t have to pay: big f’deal. It’s a pittance and it’s for a good cause and Hoboken voters approved it.

NotFromNJ
Member
NotFromNJ

I’m trying to wrap my head around this…

It looks (via internet searching) like 1200 Grand was built in 2005, before he moved in. So, assuming 2005 was when the PILOT started, I doubt that he had a hand in arranging for a PILOT. I’m guessing that was Ursa/Tarragon.

Are we saying that it’s wrong to live in a PILOTed building if you’re against PILOTs? Or that it’s wrong to live in a PILOTed building in general?
I would argue that the damage was done before he got there. He’s not harming the city by moving in: Ursa/Tarragon and those that granted the PILOT did that. Someone else would have moved into the PILOTed building if he had not. If you believe in fair markets, he probably paid a higher price for the home because it was PILOTed, losing some or all of the benefit of the PILOT.

So maybe tax relief wouldn’t help him. Doesn’t that mean that by seeking tax relief, he’s trying to help people who aren’t him? Isn’t that a good thing?

What harm has he done to the city by living in an already-PILOTed condo? What action should he have taken or not taken? Not moving into a PILOT condo just means someone else would have, and that’s no benefit to the city.

I’m probably missing the point here. Let me know.

upyurs
Member
upyurs
You are correct he moved in after the pilot was put in. However, prior to moving there he lived in Clock Towers, OH that has been a pilot for many years. Seems this tax fighter only cares about himself not paying taxes. WE WERE LIED TO. WHERE IS OUR 25% TAX DECEASE? In response to NotFromNJ who said: I’m trying to wrap my head around this… It looks (via internet searching) like 1200 Grand was built in 2005, before he moved in. So, assuming 2005 was when the PILOT started, I doubt that he had a hand in arranging for a PILOT. I’m guessing that was Ursa/Tarragon. Are we saying that it’s wrong to live in a PILOTed building if you’re against PILOTs? Or that it’s wrong to live in a PILOTed building in general? I would argue that the damage was done before he got there. He’s not harming the city by moving in: Ursa/Tarragon and those that granted the PILOT did that. Someone else would have moved into the PILOTed building if he had not. If you believe in fair markets, he probably paid a higher price for the home because it was PILOTed, losing some or all of the benefit of the PILOT. So maybe tax relief wouldn’t help him. Doesn’t that mean that by seeking tax relief, he’s trying to help people who aren’t him? Isn’t that a good thing? What harm has he done to the city by living in an already-PILOTed condo? What action… Read more »
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