- Associated Press - Thursday, May 22, 2014

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) - Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop filed a federal lawsuit against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on Thursday that seeks $400 million for what he claims are unpaid taxes, penalties and fees for 40 properties in the city.

Fulop said in a statement that he filed suit after months of negotiations failed to reach a settlement. He had announced his intention to file the suit in November.

“This is not just an issue of the Port Authority failing to pay ample taxes, it speaks to the larger issue of how the politics at the Port Authority have continued to negatively impact the residents of Jersey City and New Jersey,” Fulop said.

Port Authority Spokesman Steve Coleman said the suit was “without merit” and said the agency would defend against the allegations.

“The vitality of Jersey City has been important to the Port Authority for many years, and that’s why we invested more than $1 billion to create a modern, robust PATH system that serves tens of thousands of city residents daily,” Coleman said in an email. “It’s also why we acquired and invested millions in the Global Terminal, giving the city a thriving, job-creating port facility.”

The Port Authority operates three major New York-area airports, toll bridges and tunnels into New York City, the PATH rail system and the ports of New York and New Jersey, as well as the World Trade Center site. Four of its PATH rail stations are in Jersey City, along with the New Jersey entrance to the Holland Tunnel, and a recently opened PATH command center. Part of the ports complex also is situated within the city limits.

Fulop said the agency does not pay real estate taxes on any of its 40 Jersey City properties, which he estimates would have historically yielded about $315 million in additional tax revenue and about $18 million per year. Fulop said 33 of its properties yield no revenue, while seven are subject to making payments to the city in lieu of taxes, or PILOTS, in the amount of about $2.2 million annually, a figure the mayor called “grossly inadequate.”

Fulop said the city would also pursue legal action to block a planned Port Authority redevelopment project to build a $118 million waste transfer station at Greenville Yards if the agency won’t pay the city a host transfer fee to offset the additional costs.

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