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Senate Economic Growth Committee advances bill to bring further tax relief to troubled Atlantic City




Senate Economic Growth Committee advances bill to bring further tax relief to troubled Atlantic City

By Chase Brush | 01/15/15

Members of the Senate Economic Growth Committee quietly released a bill today that would further efforts to assist a financially-strapped Atlantic City, where a shrinking property tax base has had lawmakers and local officials scrambling for solutions in recent months.

S2645, or the “Atlantic City Growth Tax Credit Program”, would encourage construction of non-rental housing homes in Atlantic City by granting developers who build new, owner-occupied residential projects a tax credit for construction costs, including demolition, capital improvements and land acquisition. The program is meant to more evenly distribute the city’s property tax burden, where three-quarters of residents are renters.


“I certainly agree with the idea that we have to diversify the tax base,” said state Sen. Steve Oroho (R-24), who helped move the bill out of committee.

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Jim Whelan (D-3), follows on the heels of a recent wave of legislation meant to bring some economic relief to the embattled seaside city as it continues to suffer a fiscal crisis spurred on by a decline in its casino industry. A five-bill economic recovery package that would help stabilize a shaky property tax base — in part by allowing casinos to make payments in lieu of property taxes — was passed through committee late last year, but was tabled amid controversy before a final vote in the senate.

PolitickerNJ reported on that controversy in December, which centered on a dispute between the lawmakers and county and local leaders. Some officials at the county and municipal level railed at the time at the prospect of having to shoulder higher property taxes themselves as a result of breaks to casino and residential property owners in Atlantic City — though both parties have since reached a deal on the issue, according to the Press of Atlantic City.

Republican Senate Minorty Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R-21) also announced legislation today aimed at shoring up Atlantic City, this time by “consistently attracting “A-List performers to the Garden State.” Under the bill, to be introduced at the next Senate quorum, qualifying entertainers who perform at least four dates in Atlantic City’s tourism district would not have to pay state income taxes on any income they earn performing at any New Jersey venue in the same calendar year.

Whelan’s bill was released unanimously, though only three committee members were in attendance at the time of the vote. Orho, newly-minted Senator and Vice Chair Nisla Cruz-Perez (D-5), and Senator James Beach (R-6) were all present, while Whelan, who also sits on the committee, was absent due to recent surgery.

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