Prieto, Caride & Schaer Bill to Boost Tax Savings & Economic Growth in the Meadowlands Region Advanced by Assembly Committee

Bill Consolidates N.J. Meadowlands Commission & N.J. Sports and Exposition Authority While Also Revising Tax Sharing System to Provide Savings to Residents and Businesses

Legislation Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, Assemblywoman Marlene Caride and Assemblyman Gary Schaer sponsored to boost property tax savings, economic growth and job creation in the Meadowlands region by consolidating two major state agencies and improving the tax sharing system used by 14 northern New Jersey municipalities was advanced Monday by an Assembly panel.

The bill (A-3969) would consolidate the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.

It would reestablish the Hackensack Meadowlands Transportation Planning District.

It also would revise the regional tax sharing program used by 14 municipalities in Bergen and Hudson counties to ensure those receiving money continue to do so, but those that have been paying into it no longer have to do so, providing savings for residents and businesses.

“Residents and businesses in the Meadowlands have long sacrificed amid the ecological and environmental challenges facing the area, but times change and common sense reform is sorely needed to ensure the region’s future success,” said Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen). “This bill takes into account the modern needs of these communities in Bergen and Hudson counties, including tax relief, transportation improvements and economic growth, all while providing certainty and savings to local governments. It’s the right reform at the right moment in time.”

The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission, created in the 1960s, is the zoning and planning agency for a 30.4-square-mile area in Bergen and Hudson counties. The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, created in the 1970s, has promoted athletic contests, horse racing and other spectator events in the state, mostly centered around the Meadowlands sports complex.

The sponsors noted the Meadowlands sports complex has drastically changed in recent years, and emphasized that merging the two agencies serves several purposes.

“With this change, we will be addressing some of the region’s toughest problems and needs, ranging from infrastructure improvements, transportation, tourism, flood control and the improvement of the tax sharing program,” said Caride (D-Passaic/Bergen). “These two agencies have shared the common interest of promoting economic growth in the Meadowlands region and northern New Jersey. Consolidating them promotes efficiency of operation and cost-effectiveness through the elimination of unnecessary government bureaucracy. It is a fiscally responsible and common sense solution crafted for the benefit of our taxpayers.”

“This is common sense, fiscally responsible legislation that consolidates two state government entities that share responsibility for promoting the Meadowlands region,” said Schaer (D-Passaic/Bergen). “It’s time to evolve state government oversight in the Meadowlands for efficiency and fairness while taking important steps to promote economic growth and job creation.”

The tax sharing was devised in the early 1970s as a means to share the costs and benefits of regional zoning in the Meadowlands region. The Inter-municipal Tax Sharing Program was established to create a fair and equitable method of distributing the benefits and expenses of economic development and land use decisions made amongst the 14 Meadowlands District municipalities.

The paying communities are Carlstadt, Little Ferry, Lyndhurst, Moonachie, South Hackensack, North Bergen and Secaucus.

East Rutherford, North Arlington, Ridgefield, Rutherford, Jersey City and Kearny receive money, but under this bill the paying municipalities will be freed from having to contribute to the program. Instead, the program would be funded by a 3 percent hotel use assessment received from all hotel room occupancies in the 14 municipalities.

“This will allow municipalities that receive money from the account to continue to do so, but most importantly municipalities that contribute to the fund will no longer have to do so, freeing up money for the benefit of their residents,” Prieto said. “This will be real savings to residents and businesses burdened for far too long. It’s a fair solution that benefits everyone.””

Also, if money is left over in that account in any year, the commission would be authorized to use it flood control, traffic, renewable energy, infrastructure improvement projects, the promotion of the Meadowlands region as a tourism destination, the acquisition of property for open space preservation and the creation of parks and other recreational facilities.

The bill was released by the Assembly Budget Committee chaired by Schaer.