North Arlington scores $500K in money it was owed for years by NJSEA

North Arlington has finally gotten its long-promised fair share from the Meadowlands District.

In a three-year battle with the State of New Jersey over the amount of tax sharing allocation to North Arlington, Borough Administrator Stephen LoIacono announced last week the borough had received two checks — nearing $500,000 in total — for two years of funds overdue to the borough.

“It was a difficult two years between negotiations and litigation to get what was due from the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority as a result of the annual tax-sharing appropriation, but in the end, we persevered, and we received what the law says we were supposed to get,” LoIacono said.

He said if the borough had had this money at the beginning of the year, taxes would have been reduced more than they already were.

Some background.

The controversy began when the tax-sharing law was changed when the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority merged into a single government agency.

The change in the law stated that the former payers into the fund would no longer have to share their ratable wealth with those municipalities in the Meadowlands District that could not develop because of various reasons, including landfills.

The funds for the tax-sharing recipients then came from a hotel tax in the Meadowlands District.

When that tax did not meet the required funding amount, the state didn’t make up the difference.

Under the new law, the state treasurer was to make up for any shortfalls. The state again didn’t meet that obligation — and thus, a shortage to North Arlington resulted.

North Arlington tried on several occasions to get the state treasurer to meet the obligation to no avail.  A lawsuit was filed, and the borough of Ridgefield filed a lawsuit against all the towns, both payers and receivers. A judge ruled against the receivers, because of a provision in the state constitution that states if an amount is not in the state budget, no appropriation can be made by the treasurer without the legislature and the governor’s approval.

In the new state fiscal-year budget, language was approved that made up the shortfalls in the calendar year 2016 and 2017 Tax Sharing. The law was also changed so the hotel tax collection would be taken from facilities in larger geographic locations beyond the Meadowlands District.

Mayor Joseph Bianchi says the taxpayers of North Arlington are finally big winners.

“This $500,000 will now be placed in our surplus and will be part of the discussion for the next budget year,” Bianchi said. “We have been successful in lowering taxes the last two years, and we will work hard to make it three in a row.”

Council President Allison Sheedy, who worked on North Arlington’s 2018 budget, says she’s pleased with the turn-around in the financial status of the borough.

“With all the new ratables coming online, fiscally responsible spending and good ratables that will be coming online, we have turned this municipality entirely around from deficit spending of the past to a financial picture that is rock solid for years to come.”

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.