Newark City Council Discusses Tax Abatements, Appointments, and Lowering Voting Age for Local Elections

The December 19th, 2023 Newark City Council meeting was marked by several discussions, including proposed tax abatements, commission appointments, and an ordinance to lower the voting age for school board elections to 16.

The meeting began with the Council discussing appointments to various commissions. Robert Carr, recommended for the Caribbean Commission by Mayor Ras J Baraka, expressed gratitude for the nomination and emphasized her commitment to health equity and nutrition security. Council members, C. Lawrence Crump and Patrick O. Council, congratulated Carr, noting her energy, dedication, and deserving appointment. Other appointments, including Janine Crespo and Jamir Tuton to the Federally Qualified Health Center Board of Commission, were also discussed, with both nominees expressing dedication to serving Newark city.

As the meeting progressed, several ordinances were introduced, including one amending title 10 finance and taxation to reinstate the granting of 5-year tax exemptions and abatements for multiple dwellings, commercial, and industrial structures. Councilman Carlos M. Gonzalez proposed deferring the item for further discussion with the tax abatement committee, expressing confidence that progress would be made by the next council meeting.

Another ordinance discussed sought to increase the City of Newark Municipal Employees Housing Assistance Program’s grant amount from $10,000 to $20,000. Gonzalez raised concerns about the availability of funds for the program, noting the budgeted amount of $100,000 and suggesting a potential need to increase it in the 2024 budget to accommodate more participants.

Among the proposed tax abatements was a 25-year abatement for Washington 303 Urban Renewal LLC for a central ward project and a 30-year tax abatement to Gateway Lofts Urban Renewal LLC for a residential building project in the East Ward. Councilman Council requested an update from the Office of Affirmative Action and Workforce Development regarding the 25-year tax abatement.

The Council also discussed budget insertions, temporary emergency appropriations, and a cancellation of 2023 appropriations and other funds to close out balances for fiscal year 2023. Council members, including Crump, Gonzalez, and LaMonica McIver, expressed the need for more detailed information and specific dollar figures before voting on these items.

The proposed ordinance to lower the voting age for school board elections to 16 ignited a discussion. Councilman Council supported the initiative, emphasizing the importance of engaging youth in the democratic process. Similar sentiments were echoed by Councilman Crump and Councilwoman LaMonica McIver. Councilman Kelly suggested the inclusion of civic engagement classes in Newark Public Schools to further educate students on the voting process.

The meeting concluded with public comments, with community members expressing their concerns about issues such as rent increases, security, and the need for greater youth participation in governance. The council acknowledged the need for more information and clarity on several discussed items, committing to providing necessary documents and updates before proceeding with the voting process.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Ras J Baraka
City Council Officials:
Michael J. Silva, Dupre L Kelly, Louise Scott-Rountree, Luis A. Quintana, C. Lawrence Crump, LaMonica McIver, Patrick O. Council, Anibal Ramos Jr., Carlos M. Gonzalez

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