TRENTON — A bill to establish a Urban Enterprise Zone in an economically struggling Atlantic City passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee today — and was promptly heralded by two lawmakers preparing for war with each other in South Jersey’s battleground second legislative district this year.
The “Atlantic City Urban Enterprise Zone and Property Tax Relief Act”, or A3920, aims at creating jobs and spurring economic development in the embattled seaside city by designating it an UEZ. It would be the 33rd UEZ zone in the state, aiding a city rocked by casino closings and a shrinking property tax base in recent months.
Shortly after its release, Assemblyman Chris Brown (R-2) praised the measure, calling it a “driver for jobs” that will “attract a variety of small businesses necessary to help with the transition” Atlantic City’s economy is currently undergoing. The state’s UEZ program permits businesses located in the zone to offer a reduced sales tax, and provides additional incentives for businesses to hire and retain people who are unemployed.
But nowhere in Brown’s release, titled “Brown-Supported Atlantic City Recovery Bill Advances,” was there mention of the bill’s sponsor: that would be Assemblymen Vince Mazzeo (D-2), Brown’s Democratic opponent in battleground LD2 this year.
Brown and Mazzeo’s race in the second legislative district, home to Atlantic City and other struggling South Jersey towns, is expected to be one of the most hard-fought during this Assembly election year.
Mazzeo is running on a ticket with with Atlantic County Freeholder Colin Bell, while Brown will run with local labor leader Will Pauls.
“This is a common sense step to create economic growth that will help revitalize Atlantic City by encouraging businesses to develop and create private sector jobs through public and private investment,” Mazzeo said in his own release.
The bill was earlier debated and passed at a Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee last month.