The state’s Economic Development Authority will consider a $5.8 million Economic Redevelopment and Growth grant application from the Paterson Parking Authority at its Thursday meeting.
This will be the first application to be considered since the program expired in July along with the Grow New Jersey corporate tax breaks. The two have been under months of public scrutiny and questions over their effectiveness and oversight.
Paterson city officials have $130 million of ERG dollars on the table that they can apply toward the city’s development. The NJEDA so far awarded $30 million of ERG grants for transit development around one of its train stations.
The agency has slow-walked the time it takes to review applications for ERG tax credits and that of its controversial and more well-known companion program, Grow NJ. As of Oct. 29, the NJEDA had eight Grow NJ applications and 11 ERG applications in the pipeline, the majority of which were submitted in late June according to public records.
Meanwhile, the agency has also slowed down ERG and Grow NJ payments for 130 companies, representing $500 million, while they verify whether those companies are following the rules of the incentive programs and creating the economic activity as promised under their agreements.
In September, the NJEDA released $52.7 million in payments to 31 companies whose awards will total $533 million over their decade-long lifetime. Under Grow NJ, only 10 projects spanning $11.6 million were paid last month, and 21 projects spanning $41.2 million ERG dollars.
Gov. Phil Murphy let both incentives expire after media coverage and a task force he put together to scrutinize the incentives focused on the potential lack of oversight of the programs, and how they may have been crafted to benefit certain politically connected actors. The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office already made a criminal referral on the incentive, while federal officials are investigating how incentives were awarded to businesses in Camden, where more than $1 billion in incentives were awarded to companies with ties to South Jersey political powerbroker George Norcross.
NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan maintained that the new process for paying out tax breaks has been in response to growing concerns over the agency’s potential lack of oversight.
“We continue to be focused on ensuring that taxpayers get what they were promised when tax credits were awarded,” Sullivan said in a September statement. “While our more rigorous process has taken some additional time this year, applicants can be confident that when they provide the data we need to verify their jobs, they will receive the awards they’ve earned.”