Panel Will Hear From Local Officials, Assess Impact of Funding Reductions to 37 Municipalities
TRENTON – Senator Jeff Van Drew, chairman of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee, has scheduled a Monday hearing to examine the role of the state’s Urban Enterprise Zone program in participating communities. The committee will meet at 3 PM in Committee Room 1 of the State House Annex.
Senator Van Drew said the panel will also assess the impact of Governor Christie’s budget proposal, which redirects to the state millions of dollars in sales tax proceeds generated in designated urban areas and previously reinvested in those communities. The governor’s proposed budget redirects $91 million to state coffers.
“The Urban Enterprise Zone program has been an economic engine, growing businesses and creating jobs in dozens of the state’s most challenged municipalities,” said Senator Van Drew (D-Cape May/Cumberland/Atlantic). “Communities have been revitalized, downtowns restored, and business districts once thought to be dead, revived.”
“Confiscating reinvestment funding, especially in this economic climate, is the wrong thing to do,” added Senator Van Drew. “It will turn back the clock on these municipalities.”
“This hearing will give local officials an opportunity to discuss the role of the program in their communities, and to tell us what works and what doesn’t. I am willing to work with the Governor to make any reforms needed to ensure that funding from the UEZ program is used effectively and efficiently. But taking critical economic development dollars from municipalities already struggling to stay afloat will make certain their economic collapse.”
The Urban Enterprise Zone Program was enacted in 1983 to stimulate economic growth in urban communities. The program has grown from its initial 10 zones, to 32 zones operating in 37 municipalities. The program offers a number of incentives to facilitate economic development, including permitting businesses to charge half the sales tax rate on purchases. Sales tax revenue generated was historically dedicated for use in those zones.