Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise said raising the gas tax could help replenish the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) at the Hudson County Alliance for Action breakfast this morning.
“Come June there will be no money left in the TTF other than the money to pay debt service to other projects. There will be no new investments,” DeGise said at the event hosted at The Chandelier Restaurant in Bayonne, where Mayor Jimmy Davis also discussed infrastructure improvements.
DeGise also criticized Gov. Chris Christie (R), something he’s done before, for leaving it up to local government to be responsible for their own roads and city upkeep.
“For Mayor Davis and all other mayors here, if you want to fix roads, if you want to pave your roads, if you want to do anything new there, it’s going to be on you to do it.”
“So we have a governor who doesn’t want to raise taxes himself, but won’t mind if it slides down the hill and make county executives and mayors raise their taxes.”
DeGise pointed out the importance of replenishing the Transportation Trust Fund by highlighting a possible economic loss on the 96 acres of land that is north of Society Hill – half of which is owned by the City of Jersey City.
The 96 acres of land, now clear of all chromium contamination and set for development, is about 1/3 of a mile from West Side and Claremont Avenues, near the final stop on the Hudson Bergen Light Rail Train on West Side Avenue.
The other half of the 96 acres is owned by Honeywell International, Inc. They formed a union to develop these 96 acres by themselves.
“From what I understand, city planning has allowed down 4,100 units of housing on those 96 acres, as well as hundreds and thousands of square feet of commercial space – just the way as it is now.”
According to DeGise, if the light rail extends from West Side Avenue down to the vacant property, everything doubles, including the number of housing units and commercial space. The estimated cost of the light rail extension is a $225 million.
As for funding, DeGise explained that he has visited with both “Senator Menendez and Senator Booker about tapping into the newly passed transportation bill that the feds did a couple of months ago and we found that we are eligible for two different types of programs.”
The net costs of these two programs would be approximately $70 to $75 million.
A developer is also willing to build a depot, on top of the city talking about monetizing some of the gain they will have, to help with the funding.
“All we need is a match from them for the federal government that will add up to the $225 million. But there is no money left on the TTF.”
DeGise said for this reason, ot may be a good time to raise the gasoline tax.
“I’m sure Jimmy Davis and any other political people that you talk to will say nobody likes to raise taxes, I wish we never had to raise taxes. At this point, a dedicated TTF is something that is not a luxury item, but is a necessity.”