NJ Legislators Consider Doubling of Annual Credit to Shore Protection Fund

Aug 31, 2016

The New Jersey Senate and Assembly environment committees recently discussed Bill S311 (A2954), which would increase the amount annually credited to the Shore Protection Fund in support of beach replenishment and other projects to protect against erosion, coastal storm damage, shoreline migration and sea level rise. The bipartisan measure, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-1st) and Sen. Joseph M. Kyrillos Jr. (R-13th), was introduced in January, then referred to the Senate Environment and Energy Committee and Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.

Committee action is yet to be reported.

As the legislation reads, “This bill increases from $25 million to $50 million the amount that is annually credited to the Shore Protection Fund from the collection of realty transfer fees,” a tax paid when one sells a home. Current law dictates that the first $25 million of the state share collected annually is credited to shore protection, and the rest applied to housing and other programs.

The N.J. Sierra Club, which sees beach replenishment as a wasted effort, says the bill will divert money from affordable housing, housing for the homeless and county health programs. Jeff Tittel, N.J. Sierra Club director, stated, “This bill is taking money from the state realty-transfer fee that is used for towns to build housing for the homeless and group homes. These are important programs that help towns meet their affordable housing/COAH requirements.”

“It also does not account for climate change, future storm surges and sea level rise,” the Sierra Club said of the legislation. “Lastly, we are concerned that this bill is not tied to public access. It is unfair that we will be paying more money for beach replenishment, but not be able to access it.” —J.K.-H.

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