LETTER: There’s no reason Jersey City BOE should waive interest on city payroll taxes

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In a letter to the editor, Jersey City resident Esther Wintner explains why she feels there is no reason the local board of education should waive interest on city payroll taxes.

A photo from the November 20th, 2018 Jersey City Council meeting where the governing body approved a 1 percent payroll tax.

Dear Editor,

Last month, Jersey City’s Acting Business Administrator, John Metro, submitted a draft resolution asking the JCBOE to support waiving interest on payroll taxes that are past due going back two years, when the payroll tax was established.

This is an extraordinary request to ask of the JCBOE and taxpayers. It is baffling that Jersey City would make a request of an entity that is faced with massive state cuts that they themselves do not practice.

Jersey City has not committed to waiving fines for late property tax payments or committed to not entering properties into tax lien due to late tax payments.

Without knowledge of how many businesses are delinquent and the amount of funds owed, how can the JCBOE be expected to enter into this agreement? We are aware of the developer Katerra as delinquent in their payment of the payroll tax for 2019 and 2020. H

ow much is owed by this developer and are there others?

Last year, on March 11, 2020, Jersey City’s Business Administrator, Brian Platt, certified the availability of funds in the amount of $86 million in the Trust Fund for the school district from the Payroll Tax.

Just nine days later, Platt decertified that claim due to the impact of Covid-19. This raised questions by the public as to how much had been collected and what was held in the Payroll Trust Fund. The city spokesperson has not answered those questions.

CivicJC had those questions too and set out to find the answers. We obtained through OPRA, (Open Pubic Records Act), end of the month account balances for the Employer Payroll Trust Fund from April 2019 to September 2020 and General Ledger.

As of September 30, 2020, the trust fund had $43.5 million.

In the interest of the public, CivicJC calls for an audit of the Employer Payroll Tax to make certain that all who should be paying are paying, and the correct amount of funds owed are being turned over by the city to the schools.

Payroll Trust Fund – End of Month Balance – by month

4/15/2019 Beginning balance $0

4/30/2019 Ending balance $2,844,880

5/31/2019 Ending balance $18,712,122

6/30/2019 Ending balance $18,818,734

7/31/2019 Ending balance $22,161,857

8/31/2019 Ending balance $30,980, 566

9/30/2019 Ending balance $31.334,161

10/31/2019 Ending balance $34,953,152

11/30/2019 Ending balance $44,198,294

12/31/2019 Ending balance $41,505,094

1/31/2020 Ending balance $39.795,538

2/29/2020 Ending balance $48,254,855

3/31/2020 Ending balance $47,655.504

4/30/2020 Ending balance $42,215,295

5/31/2020 Ending balance $59,742,088

6/30/2020 Ending balance $46,331,787

7/31/2020 Ending balance $53,612,760

8/31/2020 Ending balance $51,319,703

9/30/2020 Ending balance $43,534,188

Payroll Trust Fund – Debits – by month

4/2019 -$217

5/2019 -$0

6/2019-$0

7/2019 -$271

8/2019 -$42,552

9/2019 -$0

10/2019 -$2,868

11/2019 -$11,407

12/2019 -$4,505,474

1/2020 -$2,876,426

2/2020 -$2,868,487

3/2020 -$2,864,838

4/2020 -$9,127,199

5/2020 -$2,865,221

6/2020 -$13,503,605

7/2020 -$81,666

8/2020 -$14,912,728

9/2020 -$7,819,177

Payment from the Payroll Trust Fund to the Jersey Schools as defined in state legislation:

“The governing body of the municipality shall monthly pay employer payroll tax revenues deposited in the trust fund over to the board secretary or treasurer of school moneys, as appropriate, of the school district coextensive with the municipality or of which the municipality comprises a part, in an amount equal to one-twelfth of the difference in State school aid provided to that school district, … between the current State fiscal year and State fiscal year 2018, for use in lieu of adjustment aid and all other categories of State school aid.”

Esther Wintner
Jersey City resident