Town sues for share of meadows cash

KEARNY – The Town of Kearny is taking the state to court to try and compel payment of $1.7 million it says it’s owed as a meadows tax sharing recipient.

A resolution passed by the municipal governing body last Tuesday authorizes the town to file a lawsuit against the State Treasurer to get the money.

The resolution says that the N.J. Sports & Exposition Authority had “advised the town that it would receive a total amount of $3,555,212 from the intermunicipal account in 2016.”

However, the town says there is still an outstanding balance of $1,711,388.

Mayor Alberto Santos said that for 2017, the town is supposed to receive $4.3 million. Payments are scheduled to be made on a quarterly basis, in May, August and November.

Santos said that Ridgefield – one of the six recipient communities in the meadows district – has filed suit in Bergen County, naming both the State Treasurer and the governor as defendant parties.

He said that North Arlington was expected to file a lawsuit also.

As explained by the Kearny resolution, the state legislature in 2015 “changed the formula of tax sharing – via the Hackensack Meadowlands Agency Consolidation Act – “whereby the former payers into the account were relieved of their obligations and intermunicipal tax payments to the town and other municipalities would be funded by a new tax on hotel rooms in the meadowlands.”

And, under that same legislative provision, the resolution notes that, “In the event sufficient assessment revenue is unavailable in any year to pay all the required meadowlands adjustment payments to municipalities in the meadowlands district, the State Treasurer shall provide [the NJSEA] with such funds as may be necessary to make all of the required payments to those municipalities.”

All six recipient meadows communities failed to get full funding for 2016. The NJSEA acts as a conduit to distribute those funds.

NJSEA spokesman Brian Aberback said: “As the Authority receives tax sharing revenue, it will continue to distribute the funds in accordance with the law.”

Without the revenue, Kearny can expect “a detrimental impact” on its 2017 municipal budget, given the revenue shortfall.

How that shortfall would be addressed has yet to be assessed, according to town CFO Shuaib Firozvi, who said that Kearny’s governing body expected to introduce the budget at its March 28 meeting. – Ron Leir

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