TRENTON – The Senate Urban Affairs Committee released the following bills in a 15-minute hearing. They include:
*S940 – Excludes veteran disability compensation from income qualification limits under homestead property tax reimbursement program.
Sen. Sam Thompson, (R-11), of Old Bridge, abstained, stating that “$80,000 is really too high a cutoff,” referring to the income eligibility required.
*S1657 – A bill authorizing property tax deferment for deployed military personnel. Thompson asked about the meaning of deployed, and whether it implied one would have to be overseas.
Sen. Jeff Van Drew, (D-1), of Dennis, said no, adding that means they need to be on active duty.
A high amount of money would also be required for the military members to pay up, after the 90-day deferment period ends, following their return home.
But Van Drew said the bill amounts to “meager appropriations in relation to their sacrifice.
“This is our way of saying… we’re trying to help them through rough financial patches.”
*S2463 – A bill requiring municipalities to submit economic growth plans to the Department of Community Affairs for approval of continued participation in urban enterprise zone program; allow zone funds to pay for storm related recovery costs for five years.
The bill creates “a bar” where municipalities show they are creating private sector employment and are using funds appropriately. Thompson voted no.
*S2539 – Authorizes release or reduction of original performance guarantee after deposit of adequate replacement performance guarantee by successor developer. The bill released unanimously.
*S2595 – “Corporate Disinvestment Property Tax Relief Act”; appropriates $5 million.
*SR103 – A resolution establishing a Senate Beach Fee Task Force.
The task force will study ways to spend the beach fees approrpriately, Van Drew said.
“We have models out there where the money is used for intended purpose,” he said.
Senate President Steve Sweeney had expressed concern some beach communities were using the beach fees inappropriately, using the proceeds to fund the general fund as opposed to only beach maintenance. Van Drew said this task force will be created as a compromise.
Sen. Brian Stack (D-33) of Union City, said he hopes something could be done to prevent beaches from raising the fees too high so no beachgoers are excluded.
Sen. Christopher Connors (R-9) of Forked River, said he hopes the task force will come up with recommendations that reinforce the idea that local control of the beaches, and not county-based, is the best way to keep the currently successful beach system intact.
However, he added that beach fees should not be used as a “cash cow” or as “a mechanisim to generate revenues” for things other than beach maintenance.