SECAUCUS -- Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli expressed frustration regarding what he said was a lack of movement toward resolving the tax sharing issue that has plagued municipalities in the Meadowlands district for many years.
Through the program, 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 share the monetary rewards. Secaucus has paid in excess of $72 million to the tax sharing program since its inception in 1973.
Gonnelli recently complained about the matter in a letter to Deparment of Community Affairs Acting Commissioner Richard E. Constable III. In the letter he stated that promises had been made by Meadowland's Executive Director Marcia Karrow and Commissioner Grifa that legislation would be introduced to address the "fundamental unfairness of the tax sharing formula." He said that the mayors in the district could agree on changing the average formula from three to five years and changing the retention percentage from 60 to 70 percent.
"Despite all of these assurances, there has been no legislation proposed and we are in exactly the same position we were last year at this time. I am now faced with, based upon early estimates from the Commission, what appears to be an increase of over $80,000, or more than 3 percent, in the town's contribution to tax sharing," he wrote. "These tax-sharing payments are not exempt from the 2 percent hard cap on tax increases."
In the letter Gonnelli writes that the town will have to make cuts to programs that are vital to the residents as a result of the ongoing tax sharing contributions.
Last year, towns including Secaucus and North Bergen decided to protest what they believed to be an unfair formula. North Bergen ultimately gave its contribution, but Secaucus held off and eventually ended up paying its share.
Gonnelli indicated in his letter that he will not let the matter rest until a permanent solution is found.