The City Council is expected to introduce an ordinance at its March 21 meeting that would eliminate the Town Center Management Corporation as it is currently comprised and put its operations under the umbrella of the Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ).
“The administration has proposed designating the Bayonne UEZ Office as the manager for the Special Improvement District (SID) in lieu of the Town Center Management Corporation” said Business Administrator Steve Gallo. “If approved, funds from the SID would be administered by the UEZ Office instead of the TCMC. The TCMC spends over half its budget on administrative costs such as employees, and consultants. By downsizing and combining operations with the Bayonne UEZ, more resources will be available for more programs within the district. The UEZ will continue the programs that the members of the SID feel are worthwhile including the holiday promotions and lighting.”
The Town Center Management Corporation was established to manage the city’s Special Improvement District (SID) when it was established in the late 1990s, and was designed to help revive aging commercial districts devastated by the impact of shopping malls throughout the state. An SID raises funds through special assessments on businesses that finance improvements to the district, provide for promotions to bring customers into the area, and offer other benefits such as street and sidewalk cleaning operations and other projects that promote economic development.
The SID is not an independent entity, but is subordinate to municipal government and its annual budget is approved annually by the City Council. The Bayonne SID controls a narrow corridor from about 17th Street to 30th Street.
Now everything will fall under the umbrella of the UEZ.
The UEZ had previously absorbed the duties of the Economic Development Office in Bayonne as part of Mayor Mark Smith’s reduction of the size of city government, Gallo said. So the continued consolidation “is in keeping with the mayor’s plans,” he said.
“We have two bodies that do roughly the same thing for the city and by combining them we cut costs.” – Steve Gallo
By putting the Town Management Corporation operations under UEZ Coordinator Terrence Malloy, the City Council does away with some of the overhead in the Town Center’s $290,000 annual budget such as rent on its office on East 22nd Street and salaries for its staff.
Although the Town Center had reduced its calendar of events due to the elimination of revenue to the city from the state Urban Enterprise Zone, it is unclear which programs will continue through the rest of the year. Typical promotions include Easter egg events for kids, Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day promotions, a street fair, various summer events, and end-of-the-year events such as a menorah lighting, Christmas tree lighting, breakfast with Santa, and a holiday Santa buggy ride.
“I do not know what events will be continued,” said Mary Divock, executive director of the Town Center Management Corporation.
SID vs. UEZ The UEZ program covers businesses throughout a much larger portion of the city than the SID. It was enacted by the state legislature in 1983 to help stimulate new economic activity and reduce unemployment within the boundaries of each zone, by providing incentives for businesses to come to these communities.
Bayonne is one of the state’s newest Urban Enterprise Zones, and was first designated on Sept. 12, 2002.
Since its inception, over 213 businesses have registered in the Bayonne UEZ program.
The UEZ has similar functions to the SID but was funded from a lowered sales tax on consumers that businesses are allowed to charge as an incentive to shoppers. Consumers in such areas pay only 3.5 percent sales tax, compared to the regular 7 percent state sales tax. The state collects the taxes but returns a large portion of it to the municipalities for various purposes within the zone.
Like SIDs, one of the principle functions of the UEZ is to stimulate economic development and to engender job creation in designated zones.
However, two years ago, Gov. Christopher Christie cut funding for UEZs throughout the state, and while the administration allowed UEZs to use funding already collected, future funding is in doubt.