The New Jersey Economic Development Authority is appealing a recent court decision that said the state is not allowed to slow-walk or withhold annual tax break payments to nuclear technology firm Holtec International, according to a media report by Politico.
Holtec was awarded $260 million under the Grow New Jersey corporate tax break program in exchange for moving several of its facilities to Camden. The award was one of the largest in state history.
But, as the Murphy administration ramped up scrutiny of the Grow NJ incentive program, the state said it would begin withholding Holtec’s annual tax break payments. On Dec. 30, Mercer County Judge Robert Lougy in the state capital of Trenton put cold water on that plan, ruling the state had to make 2018’s full $26 million payment and issue a letter of compliance.
ProPublica first reported that Holtec was barred from doing business with any federal agency for 60 days following a contracting issue with the Tennessee Valley Authority. Nonetheless, Holtec indicated in its 2014 tax break application that it had never been barred from doing work with a state or federal agency, according to the report and later a state task force.
Loungy indicated that the wording of that question was ambiguous enough that Holtec should not have been barred from receiving its tax break payment for answering “no.”
Under the original agreement, Holtec would get $26 million a year for 10 years after it moved many of its operations to Camden. Lougy said Holtec could be owed another two, $26 million payments for 2019 and 2020.
NJEDA declined to comment for this story, but state officials said previously that an appeal was likely forthcoming.
“The court granting Holtec summary judgement speaks for itself. Holtec remains focused on developing even more well-paying, highly skilled manufacturing and engineering jobs in the State of New Jersey and the City of Camden,” Holtec Senior Director of Government Affairs & Communications Joe Delmar said via email.
An NJ Spotlight analysis found erratic oversight on the part of the NJEDA when reviewing Grow NJ applications. For example, the NJEDA “intentionally chose not to request written agreements from Grow Program applicants because it did not ‘want to push the companies to another state to start engaging in further dialogue with them’,” reads the December court decision.
Editor’s note: This article was updated at 11:57 a.m. EST on Jan. 25, 2022, to reflect that the NJEDA declined to comment for this story.