Van Drew Burdens Taxpayers

If ever there was a bill that highlighted what is wrong with government in New Jersey, A4359 is it.

First, a little background. New Jersey has an Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) program. The idea of UEZs is to re-distribute wealth. Various low-income communities throughout the state participate. There were certain criteria each UEZ had to meet, but once met, the agency established is funded with millions of tax dollars to help business grow. The UEZ boards distribute these funds on projects it sees fit in grants and low-interest loans.

Furthermore, the state has permitted any business within the UEZ that has 20 or more employees to charge half the state sales tax. That is correct; buy goods in an UEZ and one only pays 3% sales tax. Buy the same product in an a non-UEZ store in a neighboring community, you pay 6%. The 3% collected does not go into the state coffers either. It remains in the UEZ for other projects. That means sales tax from UEZ businesses does not go to Trenton. How’s that for re-distributing wealth?

Millville in Cumberland County is a UEZ. From the surface, good things have occurred with the local UEZ money. Downtown Millville is being restored, there are new businesses, and one gets a general sense that the town is on the correct path.

The big news out of Millville in recent years is the proposed motorsports park that is going to be built next to the municipal airport. We won’t get into the noise issues or the traffic congestion. We won’t touch on the tardiness of the developer to make payments, the loss of wooded areas, or a re-adjustment of the number of full-time local jobs the park will provide.

No, the issue today is that Assemblyman Jeff “I sponsor every bill there is” Van Drew rammed the most idiotic bill through the Assembly yesterday. We first mentioned this bill in December.

A4359 allows the motorsports park to charge more taxes than any other UEZ business. That’s right, customers of the motor track will pay 5% on the goods they purchase, not 3%.

A governing body that establishes a sports and entertainment district (ed. Only this proposed motorsports track qualifies) may, as part of the ordinance establishing the district, assess any or all of the following taxes: (1) an additional two percent tax on sales within the district of tangible personal property subject to taxation under subsection (a) of section 3 of P.L.1966, c.30 (C.54:32B-3); (2) a two percent tax on sales within the district of food and drink subject to taxation pursuant to subsection (c) of section 3 of P.L.1966, c.30 (C.54:32B-3); (3) a two percent tax on hotel rooms occupied within the district and subject to taxation pursuant to subsection (d) of section 3 of P.L.1966, c.30 (C.54:32B-3); and (4) a two percent tax on admission charges to places of amusement within the district and subject to taxation pursuant to subsection (e) of section 3 of P.L.1966, c.30 (C.54:32B-3).

This is a time of fiscal restraint. It is a time when state government is severely short on money. The governor has proposed raising the sales tax, put off property tax reform, and indebted the taxpayer for three decades to provide road money for a mere five years while municipal governments are scurrying around trying to assemble budgets to pay for needed services (like police protection) that Corzine has refused to pay for with state funds. Taxpayers are going to be paying a lot more next year to live in New Jersey.

And Assemblyman Van Drew just added to the load. A4359 will put more of a burden on the already taxed citizen.

Dear reader, the extra 2% that will be charged at New Jersey Motorsports Park is not for government use (although there is certainly the opportunity for slippage). Rather, it will sit in a fund for the developer! The developer will be able to leverage loans off that pot of money.

Eighty percent of the $100 million park will be be financed by taxpayers. I wonder if I opened a store if I could get the government to finance 80% of the upstart costs. Could you, dear reader?

Van Drew has pimped for the developer of this project and convinced his buddies in the Assembly to go along with it.

While I am a Millville resident, if we can afford to pay more in sales tax, then it is time for the UEZ designation (and all the perks associated with it) to go away. This is absolutely ludicrous! A special tax should not be able to be levied that is to be used by a (out-of-state) company.

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