Fulop asking Jersey City Council to withdraw Arts & Culture Trust Fund referendum

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Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop is asking the city council to withdraw the Arts and Culture Trust Fund referendum that is currently scheduled for November in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo via 150baystreet.com.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

The proposal to implement the special levy was approved in February, following years of working alongside local arts organizations to lobby state legislators to implement the mechanisms that would allow for long-term arts funding.

“We were the first to put out an actionable plan supporting sustainable funding to benefit our burgeoning arts industry and our residents, but the world is changing today and we want to minimize the impact on our taxpayers as much as possible,” Fulop said in a statement.

“There is a lot of uncertainty between now and November, so we want to do the responsible thing and start making the tough decisions now so that we can better plan as we come to realize the full magnitude of the pandemic’s economic impacts.”

The Jersey City Arts and Culture Trust Fund was mirrored after the local Open Space Trust Fund, which voters approved in 2016, which was chaired by Mira Prinz-Arey before she was the Ward B councilwoman.

“We look forward to the day when we can reopen our renowned art galleries and kickoff the summer art shows that attract people from all over the region, and our arts community knows we will continue to fight for them and support them as we get through these challenging times together,” Prinz-Arey added.

The special tax levy to fund arts and culture stems from a bill Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed into law last December. The bill allows municipalities to propose a tax dedicated to the arts within the city.

“This is not an easy decision, and we have many more difficult decisions ahead of us as we work to recover from this health crisis. I’m confident that our vibrant arts scene will continue to see significant growth and support as we all work together, as Jersey City does, to get back on our feet,” the mayor also said.

The Jersey City meets remotely for a regularly scheduled public session that will begin at 6 p.m., which can be viewed here.

As of this writing, the Arts and Culture Trust Fund resolution is not on tonight’s agenda.

For the time being, Jersey City’s November ballot also includes a board of education referendum that would allow voters to select if the school board should remain elected or go back to being appointed.

A city spokeswoman did not immediately answer an inquiry regarding the status of that ballot question.