Energy Conference: Decarbonization - A Business Perspective REGISTER

While a bill sits on Governor Murphy’s desk that will allow local governments to establish authorities to impose fees on residents and business owners based on their impervious surfaces, the New Jersey Business & Industry Association continues to break down in stunning detail why the legislation should not be signed.

NJBIA is also urging members to tell the governor to vote no what some call the “rain tax.”

“Not only does this legislation add another tax on overburdened residents and businesses, but there is no language in it that defines how much people will be charged or how the funds generated by it would actually solve the stated problems,” said Ray Cantor, NJBIA Vice President of Government Affairs.

“At the end of the day, this is really just a tax in search of a problem as stormwater issues throughout the state are already being addressed in different areas.”

While there is some difference of opinion between opponents and supporters of the controversial bill on whether it should be called a “rain tax,” it would undoubtedly create authorities to impose fees based on the amount of impervious surfaces – patios, parking lots, driveways and roofs – on residential and commercial properties.

Potentially, 565 individual authorities could charge fees within their own boundaries, without having to consider how sewerage systems and stormwater in neighboring towns affect their projects. A county could also decide to have a stormwater authority, as well, potentially forcing property owners to deal with two bureaucracies and fees for the same property.

The worst part, Cantor says, is there are mechanisms already in place to address the intent of the legislation. These include:

  • Municipal stormwater (MS4) permits have already been issued and compliance is happening and expected without the need for new taxes.
  • Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO) communities and permittees have already been provided permits by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and are working on long-term solutions under existing authorities and revenue streams.
  • All municipalities within the Barnegat Bay Watershed have adopted a Stormwater Management Plan and Stormwater Control Ordinance.
  • Most developments that have existing stormwater basins manage their stormwater on site.

Cantor adds that the legislation does not address stormwater maintenance issues by the New Jersey Department of Transportation, a major stormwater operator throughout the state and in the Barnegat Bay watershed. And a new tax, if implemented, still won’t stop flooding in areas subject to tidal flooding or in areas with chronic flooding like the Passaic River Basin.

“Most disturbingly, there is no limit on how high this tax can be or how much can be collected,” Cantor said. “It essentially creates a new property tax on the public and another bureaucratic expense on the local level.

“On top of that, the law will be extremely difficult to administer. It would require an analysis of each property in a town, credits for existing facilities, and credits for how well you maintain a facility. There is no certainly on how much can be collected and no stated appeals process.”

Imposing another fee on business would also add to the cumulative total of costly mandates which leads to New Jersey having the worst business climate in the nation. They include:

  • The second-highest Corporate Business Tax in the nation.
    • A $15 minimum wage increase mandate
    • An enhanced paid sick leave mandate
    • An expanded paid family leave mandate
    • Higher energy delivery costs
    • Fees from added renewable energy efforts