A new light rail stop could be in Jersey City’s future if the Jersey City Council adopts an ordinance establishing a parking tax on out-of-town visitors.
This comes after the council introduced an ordinance on a 7-0-1 vote. Councilman Richard Boggiano abstained. The ordinance would have to be adopted on second reading.
Earlier this month, Gov. Phil Murphy approved a bill giving municipalities with at least 100,000 residents the ability to levy the new Mass Transit Access Parking Tax. Due to the last census, only Jersey City, Newark, Paterson, Elizabeth, Edison, and Woodbridge qualify to apply the tax.
The ordinance would allow Jersey City to implement an additional 3.5 percent tax on fees at public and private parking garages within city limits. According to the ordinance, a 15 percent tax on fees at these parking facilities is already in place.
The city would then be required to use these funds for financing improvements to pedestrian access to mass transit stations.
These improvements could include new bridges, walkways, elevators, escalators, platforms, among others, and according to Mayor Steven Fulop, even a new light rail stop.
“This wouldn’t impact residential parking, but the commercial parking tax side hasn’t been adjusted in 20+ years,” tweeted Fulop. “We are less than New York City which encourages more traffic to Jersey City.”
“The Mass Transit Access Parking Tax is imposed on all fees, including but not limited to, valet parking fees and any fees charged by any hospital, whether such hospital is organized as a for-profit or nonprofit organization,” according to the ordinance.
According to the introduced ordinance, parking for buildings designated for private one-family or two-family homes would be exempt from the additional tax as would nonprofit organizations, NJ Transit, religious institutions, charitable institutions, and educational institutions. Nonprofit hospitals are not exempt.
Residents are also exempt from paying the full amount of the additional tax at parking facilities as long as they have proof of residence.
For short-term parking, a resident will have to apply to the city for a rebate of the total 3.5 percent tax.
While the additional tax on parking fees is designated for improvements to access mass transportation, the ordinance stipulates that “any revenues remaining after all budgeted mass transit pedestrian access capital improvement expenditures have been used in a fiscal year, [funds] may be used to fund quality of life projects through the City.”
Garage operators will have to pay the additional tax on a quarterly basis.
Boggiano said he abstained from passing the measure on introduction because he felt the state should pay for the mass transit improvements, including the light rail stop.
Councilman Michael Yun said he understands where Boggiano was coming from, but since it wasn’t a financial burden on residents of Jersey City, and instead on outsiders who bring their cars to Jersey City it made sense considering these outsiders contribute to traffic and parking shortages in the city.
“I think they should bear some of the costs,” Yun said.