Secaucus sues NJ Sports & Expo Authority for tax money

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SECAUCUS, NJ – The City of Secaucus has filed a lawsuit against the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority (formerly the NJ Meadowlands Commission) because the City of Secaucus maintains it does not fairly receive tax revenue from transportation.

Secaucus filed a complaint this week. Secaucus-based law firm Chasen, Lamparello, Mallon & Cappuzzo has filed a lawsuit, filed by Secaucus city attorney Kenneth Porro.

The New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority is a powerful agency that oversees all new business and development in the New Jersey Meadowlands. The NJ Sports & Exposition Authority has the power to approve or deny any construction in the Meadowlands, including the construction of new roads or highways, the construction of a new hotel or apartment complex and the expansion of the service of NJ Transit train in the area. They are also charged with preserving the Meadowlands and conserving a significant portion of it as undeveloped swamps.

They also helped get permission to build the American Dream Mall. The Sports & Expo Authority is chaired by Vincent Prieto, a resident of Secaucus who was the former president of the State Assembly.

The Sports & Exposition Authority collects, among many other taxes, transportation taxes from businesses located in the Meadowlands.

Private owners do not pay this tax. The transportation tax is a tax that businesses – like hotels, Edison ParkFast, apartment complexes like the Harper and XChange – pay tax. Basically, anyone with parking pays the transportation tax, and the tax is usually determined by the number of cars that park per site.

Secaucus says that since 2008, the Meadowlands Commission has withheld about 30 percent of such transportation tax revenue, which Secaucus says should go to individual towns in the Meadowlands.

“It says in the deal that 30 percent goes to town, 70 percent goes to them,” Secaucus Mayor Mike Gonnelli said. “XChange pays millions of this tax. They are raising millions upon millions of dollars from the city of Secaucus which should be put back into the city budget.”

Gonnelli said that in the past, revenue from transportation taxes had been used to pay for things like the new cycle path on Meadowlands Parkway. He said Secaucus could build more bike lanes in town if he had the money.

“We wanted to put a traffic light on Wood Avenue but we didn’t have the money to pay for it,” he said. “It would also help us with the paving on Meadowlands Parkway and Secaucus Road and then on Enterprise Avenue. That’s what we can use this money for.”

This isn’t the first time Gonnelli has faced Prieto, and both live here in the small town of Secaucus: In 2020, Gonnelli publicly criticized Prieto for not giving Secaucus enough time to review the Meadowlands master plan. 2020. Gonnelli said the master plan does not go far enough to tackle the flooding in Secaucus. Read about their fiery meeting in February 2020: Secaucus mayor battles a powerful board of directors over Meadowlands master plan

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