County to forgo Open Space tax this year

HUDSON COUNTY – Local residents will see a small tax break this year, thanks to a decision by Hudson County not to assess most of the tax normally collected for Open Space grants.
Municipalities were still being notified of the tax break Monday and several didn’t yet know how the county’s decision would affect their residents.
However, Secaucus expects to see a 10-cent reduction in county taxes for every $1,000 of assessed property owned.
“Because of the tax burden, a decision was made this year not to assess the open space tax, other than to service existing debt, which is a very small amount,” said Al Santos, the Hudson County Freeholders clerk.
Each year, the county normally awards grants to municipalities for land acquisition, historic preservation, park improvement, and open space planning on a competitive basis. Tax money collected and designated for open space grants is used to fund these projects.
The decision not to collect the Open Space tax this year won’t affect municipal projects that are currently under consideration, and which will be the subject of a public hearing on Oct. 28, according Santos.
“Even though the tax isn’t being collected [this year], there will be funding allocations made this year to municipalities because that money comes from last year’s tax,” Santos noted. “So, what’s in the hopper now has already been weighed and considered by the county executive and the Open Space Advisory Board, and recommendations have been made. Those projects will be the subject of a public hearing on Oct. 28. And then awards will be made” on those applications.
There are 17 grants under consideration totaling more than $6 million.
The decision not to collect the Open Space tax will, however, affect the county’s ability to fund park and historic preservation projects next year.
E. Assata Wright

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