NEWARK, NJ - The city hall chambers today filled with shouts of disapproval from residents before a huge tax break for large corporations like Amazon was approved.
City council gave final approval for $1 billion in payroll tax breaks to any business that intends to create at least 30,00 new full-time jobs and make a capital investment of at least $3 billion in Newark. The ordinance calls these businesses transformative corporate headquarters, but does not explicitly name Amazon.
A second ordinance was passed that exempts a transformative corporate headquarters from tax for up to 35 years. Instead of paying taxes, the company would pay an annual service charge set by city council. The overall tax package between both ordinances would be worth up to $2 billion, said city spokesman Frank Baraff.
“Stop pissing on us and telling us it's raining and giving all these incentives to everybody but people in Newark,” said Lisa Parker, a Newark native.
Other residents were concerned that the company would just bring in new employees, rather than hiring people who live in the city. Amazon has promised to create jobs with an average salary of $100,000.
“You're giving up your kidney, her left eye, my right hip for these people to come here, for 30,000 jobs to make our people a cog in the wheel, not the creator of the wheel,” said Debra Salters, who attempted to run for city council.
Still, there was one among the group of Newarkers who implored the city council to approve the ordinances before taking a vote,
“You're passing an ordinance that says you have to bring 30,00 jobs. That's great," said Alif Muhammad, the founder of NIA School in Newark. “That means that somebody's coming in here that's gonna change this town. I want to say bravo to you guys."
Mayor Ras Baraka praised the ordinances when they were approved on first reading last month.
“The City Council has brought Newark a giant step closer to being Amazon’s choice for HQ2,” said Mayor Ras Baraka in July, adding that HQ2 would be a “game changer” for the city.
A third ordinance was approved today that would streamline the process of land-use and permit approvals for large companies such as Amazon, pending an executive order from Gov. Phil Murphy that creates a new Office of Transformative Projects.