Jersey City voters approve property tax to support arts

Surcharge plan will go to City Council for final passage

Jersey City residents have voted in support of a new property tax to support the arts (iStock)
Jersey City residents have voted in support of a new property tax to support the arts (iStock)

Voters in Jersey City have endorsed a new property tax designed to fund the arts, offering a boost to an industry with many now out of work.

The referendum, which was voted on Tuesday along with a statewide decision about legalizing marijuana, received support from 64 percent of voters, according to the New York Times. It now heads to the City Council for final approval.

The surcharge is relatively small, just half of a penny for every $100 of assessed property value, which would be $25 a year for a home assessed at $500,000. It will produce a revenue stream for local arts organizations and individuals — about $1 million to $2 million per year. Potential recipients will have to apply for funds.

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After years in the making, the vote faced a difficult path to approval once the pandemic hit. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop even asked in April for it to be taken off the ballot, reasoning that the city should focus on minimizing the impact of the downturn on taxpayers.

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But Robinson Holloway, a former chair of the Jersey City Arts Council who worked on developing the tax, told the Times the pandemic also gave it a now-or-never feeling.

“If we waited til 2021, we were worried a lot of groups wouldn’t exist, artists would have left the city and arts organizations would have gone under,” she said.

The endorsement from voters, she said, “shows that the arts are important to people even in the toughest of times.”

[NYT] — Sylvia Varnham O’Regan