CLARK, NJ – A new tax proposed by the New Jersey state legislature does not sit well with Clark Mayor Sal Bonaccorso.
The “Clean Stormwater and Flood Reduction Act,” informally known as the “Rain Tax,” has already moved through both houses in the state legislature, passing both the Senate and Assembly in January. If signed by Governor Phil Murphy, New Jersey Senate Bill 1073 would allow “municipalities, counties, and certain authorities to establish stormwater utilities.”
The bill would “authorize the establishment of local stormwater utilities and …allow those utilities to assess fees that are based on a fair and equitable approximation of the proportionate contribution of stormwater runoff from any real property, in order to finance the improvement of the State’s stormwater infrastructure, better control water pollution and flooding, restore and enhance the quality of the State’s waters, and protect the public health, safety, and welfare and the environment.”
Shortly after learning of the bill, Bonaccorso texted Assembly Minority Leader John Bramnick, who, according to the mayor, called the passage of the tax in the state legislature “a nightmare.”
The mayor was critical of the bill at a recent council meeting. “This has got to be one of the saddest days in New Jersey, as far as I’m concerned, that these morons will now tax the water that runs off your property,” Bonaccorso said, referring to the state legislature. “It is time for people to run out of this state.”
“I’ve never heard New Jersey American Water Company complain about [contaminants in the water supply],” he continued. “I’ve never heard that, and they sell the water in the state of New Jersey.”
Mayor Bonaccorso believes the law would place a greater “burden on the municipalities,” which would be tasked with establishing the stormwater utilities called for in the bill.
“This is a snowflake tax, because they want to tax everything in the state, but they’re going to leave it up to the municipalities, that were going to be the bad guys,” he said. “Phil Murphy and the Democratic legislature wants to put taxes on you, and say, ‘Local government, you go take care of it. You go explain it in your budget. And we’ll go sit down here in Trenton with a cushy job.
“I think both parties stink,” he added. “One will tax you to the poor house, and the other is afraid to fight back.”
The bill is co-sponsored by 6 Senators, five Democrats and one Republican, as well as 8 Democratic Assembly members.
This is not the first time Bonaccorso has spoken out against state laws and initiatives. In the past, he has been critical of the state’s affordable housing settlement, calling it the result of “partisan bickering.” During the meeting, he voiced concerns about affordable housing, as well as a proposed Colorado law that would legalize psychedelic mushrooms.
“Colorado wants to pass a magic mushroom law, that you can now eat magic mushrooms and hallucinate. How far are we behind that, guys?” the Mayor asked, worrying that New Jersey may try to pass a similar law. “If Colorado can figure a way to tax it and make money, we’ll be right behind.”
“The people here in suburbia are getting killed with this stuff,” he added, later in the meeting. “Apartments popping up all over, rainwater tax, give me a break. There’ll be a mushroom tax next, you watch.”
New Jersey is not the first state to consider enacting a “Rain Tax.” In 2013, Maryland passed a law requiring required the state’s ten largest and most urban jurisdictions to collect fees in order to “establish a watershed protection and restoration program.” The law was amended in 2015 to allow each county to decide whether or not to collect fees, according to the Baltimore Sun.
The Illinois General Assembly passed a similar law in 2013 allowing multiple counties to “adopt a schedule of fees applicable to real property that benefits from the county’s stormwater management facilities and activities.”