BERKELEY – Legislation is underway that would return millions of dollars in taxes to towns that are owed money from the state.
The taxes in question are the Energy Tax Receipts. Years ago, utility companies paid the towns taxes for these poles. After all, a pole is property in town and therefore subject to property tax. Then, at some point, the state started collecting the money to distribute to the towns. Except the state spent that money instead.
“You’re talking millions of dollars that should have gone to municipalities,” Mayor Carmen Amato said. The state is “flush with billions of extra dollars” so he hoped that this bill could pass so some of that money can go back to where it belonged.
He noted that it didn’t matter whether the Republicans or Democrats were in charge, Trenton kept the money.
The Energy Tax Receipts Property Tax Relief Act would “restore, over a five-year period, approximately $331 million” to towns across the state.
The Senate version of the bill, S-330, has two sponsors and 20 co-sponsors, including James Holzapfel and Christopher Connors, the senators that represent Ocean County. This means it was a popular bill. Out of 40 state senators in New Jersey, 22 had their name on it. The bill passed 39-0.
The Assembly version of the bill, A-3804, has three sponsors and 34 co-sponsors. It has not been voted upon yet, but almost half of the 80 members of the state assembly are already in favor.
The Berkeley Township Council passed a resolution in support of the bill.
The New Jersey League of Municipalities said that it was in 1997 when utility regulations changed. The League has been pushing for the money to come back to towns for a number of years.