Housing authority could pay New London less money

New London - The City Council's Finance Committee on Monday evening approved a reduction in payments due to the city from the New London Housing Authority.

Under the new arrangement, which would not take effect unless it is approved by the full City Council, the housing authority's annual payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) for the high-rise building at 202 Colman St. will drop from 10 percent of the yearly rent for the occupied units to 5 percent of total rent collected beginning this year.

The committee also established a timeline for the housing authority to make its overdue PILOT payments for 2011, 2012 and 2013, which total $198,578.

The payment schedule approved Monday by the Finance Committee would require the housing authority to pay $150,000 to the city by Dec. 31, 2014, and then pay the outstanding balance and its payment for 2014 during the second quarter of 2015.

The housing authority's request is due in part to a reduction in state funding for the Elderly Rental Assistance Payments program, its executive director said.

"It's not that the housing authority wants a free pass," said Sue Shontell. "Part of the memorandum of understanding between the city and the housing authority is that the city will provide the same services it provides to other residents for the payments in lieu of taxes."

The complex at 202 Colman St., which includes 130 apartments, does not receive city services like trash and recycling pickup or snow plowing, she said.

"Since the high-rise does not benefit from those services, I'm asking for a reduction from 10 percent of rent to 5 percent of rent," Shontell said.

Council President Wade A. Hyslop and Councilor Erica Richardson voted in favor of the reduction and modified payment plan. Councilor Michael Passero, the committee's third member, was absent from Monday's meeting.

Shontell also said the housing authority considered raising revenue by leasing space at the top of the building for cellular antennae, but the city's emergency dispatch antennae are there and adding others could create interference.

"If the police antennas are on this building and we're not making any payments (to) the New London Housing Authority, this is a consideration for us to do," Richardson said. "These are our elderly and disabled that live in our city, so I think where we can be flexible, we need to be flexible."

c.young@theday.com

Twitter: @ColinAYoung

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