City council to consider ‘clerical cleanup’ of Jersey City arts trust fund tax ordinance

The Jersey City Council is preparing to adjust the Arts and Culture Trust Fund tax to give the city council the ability to set the tax rate by resolution annually.

The revision would remove the wording that imposed the quarter-penny-per-$100 in property value assessment from last year, but otherwise leave the ordinance establishing the trust fund tax unchanged for now. A first reading of the proposed ordinance is scheduled for Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

Ward E Councilman James Solomon called the amendment a “clerical cleanup” at Monday night’s council caucus meeting, designed to change the way the tax works without necessarily changing the rate. A spokeswoman for the city confirmed that the rate itself was not going to change based on the amendment.

The amendment appears to be an attempt to refine how to raise funds for a first-of-its-kind in New Jersey arts trust fund. “We’re going through the process of (the Arts and Culture Trust Fund tax), trying to get it up and running,” said Council President Joyce Watterman. “The people voted for it, so we’ve got to do our job.”

There have been hiccups along the way toward establishing this tax since the public first approved it by referendum in 2020.

That referendum gave the city council the authority to establish the tax rate at anywhere up to 2 cents per $100 in real assessed property value. The money raised from that tax would go into the Arts and Culture Trust fund, which in turn would support local artists in the city.

In 2021 the council set that rate at $.0025 per $100. But in September of 2021, Mayor Steven Fulop announced over Facebook that the city had accidentally charged taxpayers the $.02 per $100 rate, and the city ultimately had to refund homeowners an average of $88. “We are the first city in NJ to implement this so we fully expect some growing pains,” Fulop wrote at the time.

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