After mayor presses for tax dollar-saving measure, Meadowlands Commission releases report
Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli believes his town pays an unfair amount of tax dollars as part of a longtime tax-sharing program to spread out the benefits of Meadowlands development. After repeatedly pushing for the state's Meadowlands Commission to provide information since the spring, the agency on Wednesday agreed to release a report on tax sharing that was prepared by Dr. David Listokin. The inter-municipal tax sharing formula was evaluated by Dr. Listokin from the Institute for Meadowlands Studies at Rutgers University and his recommendations were provided to the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission in late April.
Through the state’s tax sharing program, started in the early 1970s, the towns in the Meadowlands region that are allowed to develop must pay into a tax pool so that other towns that can’t develop for environmental reasons can offset the loss of tax ratables. There are 14 towns in the Meadowlands District.
Gonnelli, whose town is the highest contributor into the tax pool with 88 percent of the town in the district, has threatened to file a request through the Open Public Records Act for all of the emails, correspondence, invoices, phone logs, and information related to tax sharing if the commission did not release the report. He also said the town would pursue legal action if no action was taken because the formula is unconstitutional. The Secaucus municipality has also said the formula is unfair, antiquated, and serves as an economic disincentive.
“I don’t know why this information is kept secret,” said Gonnelli. “That information is paid for by public funds…it is public information.”
He asked the commission to put forth a resolution his administration had drafted to release copies to the District mayors.
After the commission met in closed session they determined that a vote on the resolution was not necessary and agreed to release the report.
“On behalf of all the mayors this will be a big plus for us,” said Gonnelli.
The report prepared by Dr. Listokin came at the request of Gov. Christopher Christie. Christie asked the NJMC to study potential changes in the tax sharing formula that would provide greater predictability and decrease volatility for municipalities in the taxing district, according to Lisa Ryan, public information officer for the NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA).
As it turns out, the report includes a number of different scenarios for the formula.
Gonnelli sent a letter to the governor dated July 6 “out of exasperation over the lack of progress with regard to fundamentally changing the tax sharing.”
Search for oldest fridge through recycling program
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) is on a quest to recycle the state’s oldest refrigerator or freezer and is offering a $1,000 reward, through New Jersey’s first ever “Oldest Refrigerator Contest.” The owner of the oldest fridge recycled through the BPU’s N.J. Clean Energy Program (NJCEP) will receive a $1,000 gift card good toward Energy Star products at any Sears store and the title of New Jersey’s Oldest Refrigerator Contest Winner. The winner will be announced in October. To take part in the contest, appliance owners simply sign up through Sept. 30 to have their refrigerator or freezer recycled by calling (877) 270-3520 or visiting www.NJCleanEnergy.com/refrigerator. Appliance owners get $50 per unit with a limit of two units each household. Appliances to be recycled must be in working order and between 10 and 30 cubic feet, using inside measurements.
For more information, visit NJCleanEnergy.com or call (866) NJSMART.
August movies at the Secaucus Public Library
Free movies for adult residents are shown at the Secaucus Public Library and Business Resource Center on most Tuesdays, beginning at 1 p.m. Although it was previously announced that there would be no movies for July and August, library director Jenifer May reports that movies will begin again on Aug. 7.
The movies are selected by Richard Gantzhorn, library technical clerk, and are shown on a large screen television in the second floor Panasonic Room. Light refreshments are also served.
August’s movies will be presented at 1 p.m. on the following Tuesdays: Aug. 7, “Safe House,” rated R, a 115 minute action drama starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds; Aug. 14, “Battle: Los Angeles,” rated PG-13, a 116 minute science fiction action movie starring Aaron Eckhert and Michele Rodriguez; Aug. 21, “Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows,” a 129 minute PG-13 action drama starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, and Aug. 28, “The Artist” (black & white silent film that won the 2011 Academy Award for best picture), a 100 minute PG-13 drama starring Jean Dujardin and John Goodman. For more information, call: (201) 330-2083.
Take a pontoon tour around the Meadowlands
The NJMC Pontoon Boat Tour launches on July 31 and Aug. 2 at 5 p.m. For $15 per person, guests can get an up-close view of the Meadowlands District’s spectacular scenic beauty and wildlife with a two-hour guided pontoon boat cruise of the Hackensack River and its surrounding marshes. Experienced NJMC staff will discuss the region’s human and environmental history and point out birds and other wildlife along the way. Pontoon boat cruises depart from river Barge Park, 260 Outwater Lane, Carlstadt. The tour is for ages 10 and up.
Pre-registration is required. For directions, a complete schedule and to register visit www.njmeadowlands.gov or call (201) 460-4640.