N.J. lawmakers pushing taxes, pay hikes

January 2, 2008 6:00:30 AM PST
Arena tickets, parking, garbage collection and new televisions may soon get more expensive in New Jersey.

Judges, meanwhile, will likely get some extra money in their paychecks.

New Jersey legislators are mulling new taxes and a pay hike for judges in the closing days of the legislative session.

The legislative session ends at noon Tuesday when the Legislature elected in the Nov. 6 election convenes. All bills not passed by then expire.

Two tax bills and legislation increasing judicial salaries - and the minimum salary for several county officials - weren't set for consideration until after Democrats kept legislative control in the Nov. 6 election, in which all 120 seats were decided.

The bills, all scheduled for Thursday committee hearings that would clear them for Monday votes by the full Assembly and Senate, would:

- Allow Newark to tax tickets at the new Prudential Center.

The levy could be as high as 5 percent of the ticket price, with the money raised going to Newark, the state's largest city, which has struggled with poverty and crime.

- Allow cities to impose a 7 percent parking tax during sporting events, trade shows, concerts and other special events held on weekday evenings, weekends and holidays.

The tax would be in addition to parking taxes that already may be charged in the municipality.

The money would be used to help pay police, fire, sanitation and other costs associated with hosting special events.

Newark, Jersey City and Elizabeth are the only New Jersey cities to currently impose a parking tax.

- Impose a new tax on solid waste facility owners and collectors.

The $3 per ton tax would raise $34 million per year to support municipal and county recycling programs.

Legislative staff estimates the tax should have minimal affect on county and municipal property taxes because the money raised by it will be used to provide grants to the governments, but businesses contend the proposal lacks safeguards and will increase costs.

Legislators first began debating this bill last January.

- Impose a $10 fee on the sale of each new television in New Jersey to create a recycling program for used televisions. The new fee would be imposed starting July 1.

This bill has been considered throughout the year.

- Give New Jersey judges an 11 percent pay increase.

The measure would put the pay for state Superior Court judges on par with federal court judges but comes with the state facing a projected $3 billion budget deficit for next fiscal year and after judges received a 5.7 percent pay raise this year.

Under the bill, Superior Court judges would get $165,000 per year, up from $149,000; appellate judges get $175,600 per year, up from $158,500; associate Supreme Court justices $185,500 per year, up from $167,500; and the chief justice $192,795 per year, up from $173,500.

The bill also would increase the minimum salary for county clerks, surrogates, deed and mortgage registers and sheriffs from $91,650 to $107,250.