N.J. Senate proposes measure to increase hotel tax in Meadowlands towns

The New Jersey state Senate sent Gov. Chris Christie's legislation that would restructure how the Meadowlands region is governed — and impose a new 3 percent hotel tax in its 14 towns.

The “Hackensack Meadowlands Consolidation Act” (A3969) passed the state Senate by a vote of 21-12, several days after it passed the Assembly. Democrats who control the Senate opened the voting board at 10 a.m. and left it open for more than six hours, allowing senators to trickle in until it accumulated the 21 votes it needed for passage. 

The bill combines the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission, which is responsible for zoning and planning in the 30.4-square mile area made up of 14 towns in Bergen and Hudson Counties, with the New Jersey Sport and Exposition Authority. It would also reestablish the Hackensack Meadowlands Transportation Planning District, which according to the bill “permits the assessment of fees on future development to ensure that adequate transportation infrastructure is put into place to accommodate the vehicular and pedestrian traffic caused by future development."

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But the most controversial part is how it would change a 41-year-old law called the Meadowlands District Inter-Municipal Tax Sharing program, in which the district’s towns that benefit from development share revenue with towns that have severe development restrictions.

Under the bill, the payers would no longer have to provide money for the program from their municipal budgets. Rather, it would be funded by a new 3 percent hotel room tax in the 14 towns, which would be on top of already-existing state and local hotel taxes.

The towns are Carlstadt, East Rutherford, Little Ferry, Lyndhurst, Moonachie, North Arlington, Ridgefield, Rutherford, South Hackensack, Tetetrboro, Jersey City, Kearny, North Bergen and Secaucus.