Jersey City City Hall

Wednesday night, the Jersey City Municipal Council authorized the mailing of estimated tax bills totaling approximately $774 million for the third quarter of this year, an amount reflecting a significant increase in taxes for the city’s homeowners. According to Jack Scura, the city’s acting chief financial officer, the levy could translate to an increase of $674 in third-quarter taxes for someone with a $452,000 home.

Almost half of the funds raised will go toward funding the 2022–2023 budget of the city’s public schools; remaining amounts would support an array of city and county services, according to figures provided at the meeting and detailed below. Homeowners will receive the bills by around Aug. 1.

Wednesday’s authorization is the outgrowth of funding decisions the city’s Board of Education made earlier this spring.

In March, the Board of Education adopted a 2022-2023 budget of $973 million requiring a tax levy of about $280 million for 2022. The new budget reflects an increase of nearly $160 million over that of the previous school year.

Scura said that neither the city nor the county (which account for the other components of residential tax bills), has adopted budgets for this year, making it impossible to calculate the tax implications of their 2022 spending

Scura said he built a 5 percent inflation rate for the municipal budget into his calculations but that most of the projected tax hike would be for school purposes. The school’s fiscal needs will edge up the estimated tax rate, from 1.604% to 1.889%, he said.

The resolution directing the tax collector to mail out the estimated bills “requests approval of the estimated tax levy (for city, schools and county shares) set at $773,770,191.13 with an estimated tax rate of 1.889%, mostly to address the large increase in the approved 2022-2023 school board budget.”

In a breakdown of the city’s 2022 estimated tax rate, Scura projected $217,764,375 for municipal purposes, $353,720,453 for schools, $184,920,785 for the county, $15,120,661 for municipal library, $1,023,803 for arts & culture and $1,220,111 for municipal open space.

The council also took up matters concerning development in Paulus Hook and the West Side.

Despite protests, council members voted to direct the Planning Board to prepare an amendment to the Tidewater Redevelopment Plan that would enable the historically significant two-story Bel Fuse building at 206 Van Vorst St. to be replaced with a six-story residential structure.

Charlotte Kreutz, Diane Kaese, Daniel Spadaro, Thomas Milmer, Kevin Matha, Stephanie Daniels, and Paige Keck all urged the council to oppose development that overtakes the small-scale residential neighborhood of an historic downtown “buffer district.”

Nonetheless, the council voted 7-1-1, with Ward F Councilman Frank Gilmore dissenting and Ward C Councilman Richard Boggiano abstaining, to approve the resolution.

Because the proposed development involved is located in the Inclusionary Housing Overlay District, Ward E Councilman James Solomon suggested that the project could add more affordable housing for the downtown ward, “which we are in need of in that area and which we haven’t had enough.”

Councilman-at-large Daniel Rivera noted that residents had “valid concerns” and that their input should be considered before the project is permitted to go forward.

The council voted to endorse state legislation appropriating $100,000 in state Department of Community Affairs funding to Jersey City for a study examining transit and green space needs at the Bergen Arches.

Members of the Jersey City-based Bergen Arches Preservation Coalition, a nonprofit dedicated to creating a bike and walk path or transit corridor through the Arches while preserving the site’s ecology and infrastructure, thanked the council for its backing. Rahie Cornejo, a spokesman for the group, called the study an important first step toward developing the Arches as a “shared-use space,” one that Ward C Councilman Richard Boggiano suggested might be adaptable to use by the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system.

As noted by the council resolution, the Bergen Arches are “a mile-long, 60-foot-wide former railway corridor that runs roughly parallel with Rt. 139 from Palisade Avenue to just west of Tonnelle Avenue and was built through the Palisades/Bergen Hill at depths ranging from 40 to 80 feet.” The Erie Railroad routed six passenger train lines over four tracks through the cut from 1910 to 1957. NJ Transit now controls the corridor’s rights-of-way.

The study would “examine the potential for creating legal access to the Arches as a rail-trail or public greenway corridor in the near term, connecting the Arches to the Essex Hudson Greenway and Harsimus Branch Embankment, ultimately aligning with the East Coast Greenway route into Jersey City, preserving the historic infrastructure and existing nature and providing options for future rail use in the long term.”

In other business, the council voted to endorse a plan for the construction of the Bayfront Promenade, a “210-unit family-style, mixed-income project with 35 percent of the residential units to be affordable housing restricted to those earning equal to or less than 60 percent of the Area Median Income” on a section of Culver Avenue.

The project, slated to be built by Bayfront Partners 32, L.P., would be the first to rise in what the city has labeled the 100-acre Bayfront redevelopment area on the west side of Rt. 440 in the city’s West Side ward, off the Hackensack River. The development will accommodate 8,000 new residential units, of which 35% will be “affordable” apartments.

Additionally, the council honored Faith Bethea for her achievements as “one of the greatest female track athletes” in the history of Snyder High School,” having been named to the all-county team for girls’ volleyball and having been a starter on the girls’ basketball team, “contributing to the team experiencing their first 20-win season in over 25 years.”

At the Penn Relays, she became the first track-and-field athlete in Hudson County history to win an individual event with her jump of 40 feet 5.5 inches, surpassing the prior county record of 35 feet 9 inches. She dedicated her achievement to her track coach Robert Arena who died in October 2021.

Bethea was raised in the city’s Curries Woods public housing development with her mother Tiffany Bethea, who was also a standout track-and-field athlete at Snyder.

Ron Leir has been a journalist since 1972. That includes a 37-year stint as a reporter, copy reader and assistant editor with The Jersey Journal, followed by a decade as a reporter with The Observer in...