The idea of giving counties the option of increasing their hotel tax was one of the ideas presented in a bipartisan, multi-bill package proposed by lawmakers to help counties ease the tax burden on residents.

A proposed bill would give counties the option of having a hotel tax. (shunjian123, ThinkStock)

Legislators unveiled the proposed bill package, which is the product of off-the-record meetings held throughout the summer between lawmakers and local government officials.

The bill in question (S-3169) would let counties to impose a hotel tax of an extra 1 percent. It would be in addition to the current State hotel occupancy fee and sales tax and any municipal hotel taxes. The measure is sponsored by State Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Cranbury).

Freeholder boards in the counties would have to adopt a resolution to impose the 1 percent increase, said State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Thorofare). Currently in New Jersey, hotels charge a 7 percent occupancy tax and a 7 percent state sales tax.

“Providing sources of recurring revenue is important so that we can help taxpayers that live here. We’re not looking to hurt any tourism. In Atlantic City and Atlantic County especially this would be a major windfall. We’re trying to find ways to help taxpayers, but also help governments provide services better,” Sweeney said.

All of the bills will be the subject of continues dialogue among legislators, counties and New Jersey residents and will be part of a collaborative effort to help counties which are being forced to pay for more services than ever before.

“The issue of the added on county hotel tax came from the Bergen County Board of Freeholders and I am delighted that it was included as a new source income to the various counties who in one way, shape or form are called upon to service those hotels in which we know are probably paid for by and large by out of state residents,” said Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck).

The other measures in the package include:

  • A bill (S-3168) that would impose a 2 percent limit on the annual increases in the portion of the budget of a certain county independent entities that is paid for out of the county property tax levy.
  • An act (S-3170) that would add the County Superintendent of Elections to the list of officials that may be subject to the annual requirements set forth in a county’s administrative code.
  • A measure (S-663) to require a $5 increase in court fees and establish the “Court Security Enhancement Fund” to be used to help counties and towns in provide and maintain safe and secure court facilities.
  • Legislation (S-2200) to extend the authority to appoint special law enforcement officers to perform court security duties to all county sheriffs. Now, only county sheriffs in counties that have a county police department can appoint these officers.

“These bills will really allow county governments to operate more effectively and efficiently,” said John Donnadio, executive director of the New Jersey Association of Counties.