NJ Green Acres Program Runs Out Of Money
By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. December 27, 2012
New Jersey has run out of money for the popular Green Acres program to preserve open space.
The last of the money from a $400 million bond issue voters approved in 2009 has been allocated. So there are no new funds available for land preservation.
Tom Gilbert with the Keep It Green Campaign says land preservation deals throughout the state that are now being negotiated rely on having a new source of funding.
“There could wind up being quite a few critical projects that fall apart if we can’t get a solution identified now, ideally on the ballot next year, so that the funds are there as these projects start to come to completion.”
Gilbert says the state needs to find a new way to provide $200 million a year to continue the program.
“The challenge is getting our elected leaders to find some common ground on kind of a bipartisan solution for how they want to pay for this. Whether or not there will be an appetite for any kind of new tax or fee I think is a real open question.”
Voters previously approved 13 ballot measures authorizing borrowing for Green Acres projects.
Environmentalists want a permanent funding source, but New Jersey Business and Industry Association President Phil Kirschner says this is not the time to impose any new fees to pay for that.
“I don’t think anybody is looking to raise taxes for it especially in this economy, and we have the additional burden of recovering from the hurricane. So I would say this is a particularly bad time to even consider that.”