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TRENTON-The State Senate’s transportation committee was expected to consider a bill (S-1790), on Monday that would funnel 60% of the sales taxes generated by the Meadowlands Xanadu shopping and entertainment complex in East Rutherford to Bergen County. The bill never made the agenda. According to a source with knowledge of the proceedings, S-1790 was pulled back “because of a lack of support.” Future action on the bill is uncertain at this time.

Specifically, the estimated proceeds of $17 million a year would go to pay for road improvements along Route 3 from Lyndhurst to Secaucus, and Route 17 from Ridgewood to its intersection with Route 3. If passed, the legislation would set up a special account that would be administered by the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission, a state agency. Prime sponsors of the bill are senators Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) and Joseph Coniglio (D-Bergen).

Outside of the State Senate, the proposed legislation has already drawn plenty of opposition. “The bill is constructed on the false premise that Xanadu, if it ever opens, will create new sales tax revenue,” says Walter Smith EVP of the Secaucus-based Hartz Mountain Industries. Hartz officials have been constant critics of the Mills Corp. and Mack-Cali Realty Xanadu project. The firm has sued the developers over the project.

“There is no growth in buying power or discretionary income in New Jersey based on Xanadu,” Smith says. “It just cannibalizes sales at existing malls and neighborhood retail stores. So this tax will then cannibalize a [state] budget that is already insufficient to maintain needed programs.”

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