On behalf of our member companies that provide more than 1 million jobs in the state and make the New Jersey Business & Industry Association the largest statewide business association in the country, we are OPPOSED to S-1073 (Smith, Bateman) which creates stormwater utility fees.
NJBIA understands the goal of the sponsor to address non-point source pollution, flooding and infrastructure needs. However, we believe what is needed is a comprehensive plan for our infrastructure that also mitigates the impact on ratepayers verses a new tax on ratepayers.
New Jersey is the most taxed state in the nation and our companies and residents alike are challenged on issues of affordability and the overall cost of living in New Jersey. For many businesses the fees authorized in this bill would amount to double taxation. Many facilities already are required to obtain stormwater permits for their operations. Under those permits, companies are required to pay application fees and oversight fees that run in the thousands of dollars. Furthermore, these facilities are required to mitigate impacts to stormwater as a requirement under the permits. In short, they are already taking steps to accomplish the goal of the bill.
Under this bill, companies would be assessed a fee by a local stormwater authority, even if they already have a stormwater permit. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that these fees will be used for their intended purposes. In these tough budgetary times when state aid to municipalities is diminishing, a new revenue source such as this may simply go toward covering existing expenses instead of being dedicated to their intended purpose under the bill.
NJBIA looks forward to working with the Legislature on a comprehensive plan that takes into account our water infrastructure needs and ways to increase efficiencies, modernize systems, and mitigate impacts on ratepayers.