While the local headline from last week’s elections is undoubtedly New Jersey’s soon-to-be legalization of marijuana, voters in Jersey City also voiced their support for a new tax that will support various cultural activities.
During the November 3 elections, a public question was put to Jersey City voters asking if they would support a municipal art and culture tax levy. The proposal would establish an additional property tax designed to fund the arts and was supported by just over 36,555 of those that voted, with about 21,000 who cast their ballots opposed.
With the support of 63.6% of the voting public, the plan now heads to the City Council for approval. A final tax rate under the deal has not been set in stone, but the proposed levy is likely to fall between half a penny and two cents for every $100 of a home’s assessed property value.
The municipal art and culture tax would be the first in the state if enacted in Jersey City and could produce a revenue stream for local arts organizations and individuals of about $1 million to $2 million per year. The Arts and Culture Trust Fund would support creative and cultural activities that include fine arts, music, dance, graphic design, film, digital media, architecture, and urban design.
Potential recipients would have to apply to receive the program’s funds, which could be made available as soon as next year. The City Council has not yet announced when a final plan regarding the arts levy could be voted on and it remains to be seen if a finalized deal emerges before their upcoming December 2 meeting.
Planning to create Jersey City’s Arts and Culture Trust Fund goes back to February when Mayor Steve Fulop announced that a public question on the matter was imminent. The COVID-19 pandemic caused Fulop to re-evaluate the proposal, with the mayor going so far as to ask the council to withdraw the public question.
It’s unclear when the new tax could be assessed against Jersey City’s property owners, although more specifics should emerge in the coming weeks as an ordinance on the matter is finalized.