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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Plainfield must return more than $400K to State

Plainfield will have to return more than $400,000 to the state after it mistakenly credited the 37 Urban Enterprise Zone communities with funds meant to go instead to the state's property tax relief fund, according to a list reported in Saturday's Ledger (see here).

Under Mayor Robinson-Briggs, the city's UEZ drawdowns have included paying for public entertainment and police salaries.

Though the story broke last week (see here), Mayor Robinson-Briggs has not publicly acknowledged that Plainfield has to return any funds.

The UEZ program is supposed to enhance the businesses of selected older communities.

Plainfield is one of the earliest cities to be placed in the program, a benefit of which is that consumers only pay half the state sales taxes at participating UEZ zone businesses.

For businesses, one of the benefits is that certain capital expenses by member firms are free of sales taxes, a selling point made by the late Mayor Al McWilliams in attempting to set up a 'Medical Enterprise Zone' in the area of Muhlenberg Hospital, a plan that was abandoned without explanation by Robinson-Briggs.

The Medical Enterprise Zone would have benefited medical practices and labs that have to invest in expensive equipment such as MRI scanners and other essentials. (On a $1M piece of equipment, the tax savings would be $75,000 -- nothing to sniff at.)

In turn, Muhlenberg would have benefited from more doctors affiliating with the hospital and referring patients to it. Instead, Robinson-Briggs simply turned her back on any attempt to forestall the closure of Muhlenberg when efforts at that time could have had beneficial results.

In contrast to Plainfield, communities like Vineland, where the UEZ was wisely separated from political control, have developed not only a long-range business growth plan, but a revolving loan fund for businesses that ultimately reached more than $50 million.

Under Robinson-Briggs, Plainfield has had no such long-term plan or vision, just treating it like a piggy bank for the mayor's pet projects.

-- Dan Damon

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Anonymous said...

Dan, your statement is incorrect. The State made the mistake, not Plainfield. Also, the State mistakenly distributed the funds to 37 communities not Plainfield

Dan said...

Dear 5:36 PM --

I think the context speaks for itself that the state is the 'it' referred to.

Your comment reminds me of the old joke:

This woman dies and goes to heaven. She knocks on the door at the Pearly Gates, and St. Peter says 'Who's there?'

She replies, "It is I."

"Go away." St. Peter says, "we have enough English teachers."

Keep reading -- catch me in a good one and I'll fix it!