Jersey City overcharged property owners for the arts trust tax, but says the rebate will arrive in the next bill


Jersey City landowners were overcharged by 800% for the new arts and culture tax on their property tax bill, a situation which city officials said was an administrative error.

In March, city council passed an ordinance setting the levy of tax on the arts and culture trust fund at a quarter of a cent per $ 100 of total real estate valued by the municipality. But when residents received their property tax bills, they soon realized they had to pay 2 cents for every $ 100, which meant the average homeowner was billed $ 96 for what should have been. a tax assessment of $ 12.

Mayor Steve Fulop said Monday that as a result of the error, homeowners will benefit from an “additional $ 88 reduction in their taxes on the average assessment of $ 480,000.”

“This new reduction will be reflected in the fourth quarter tax bill that we send out the second week of October,” Fulop wrote on Facebook. “We are so proud that we were able to reduce municipal taxes by $ 1,000 for the average homeowner and this credit further reduces taxes to help families in Jersey City.”

Adam Cohen, 34, who lives in Journal Square, said looking at his tax bill and seeing that it was overcharged by the city, he thought, “Is it again?” He said the mayor was doing it like it was another tax cut, but it isn’t. “

“I would like an explanation,” Cohen said. “It’s a little unbelievable to me that we are talking about this good news that the city’s tax assessor messed up. It is not good news. It is a little offensive that the mayor is sort of celebrating a mistake that adds an additional tax burden to people. “

When city council passed the ordinance in March, it set the tax at a quarter of a dime per $ 100, but council can vote to increase the levy to 2 cents per $ 100 in the future. In the latest tax bill, the city’s tax assessor mistakenly charged people at the high end of the tax bracket, $ 0.02 per $ 100, the mayor said.

Residents of Jersey City voted in a referendum to create the arts trust fund last November to support various arts initiatives including music, dance, fine arts, graphic design, cinema, digital media and other media.

The assessor’s office declined to comment and directed all questions to city spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione, who said the tax error would not affect funding for artists and arts organizations. local.

Wallace-Scalcione notes that this is the first time in the state that an arts trust fund has been created “and that this is the first time that a city in New Jersey has had an arts trust fund. , it is not surprising to have mistakes along the way. But the important thing is that we correct them quickly, that’s what’s happening here. “

This is the second time in a few months that residents have been overcharged by the city. In July, the city suspended its controversial ‘water tax’, or solid waste tax, in which residents were charged for garbage pickup and recycling based on their water usage and got slammed. exorbitant bills.

Frank Gilmore, owner of Educational Gilmore Community Learning Center, asked when the city administration will assume its responsibilities. He said it was a shame as some people in the city live paycheck to paycheck.

Gilmore added that there needs to be oversight of tax implementation for residents, as this is the second time in 90 days that there has been an issue.

“It’s the same with the (water) tax, ‘Oh, we thought they were going to do it at this rate,’ said Gilmore, who is running for the Ward F council seat. will tell you one thing, they are not wrong and send no one extra money. “

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