The Mayor from Jaws has been referenced a lot over the past few weeks. It appears Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop doesn’t want to be that guy…
On Friday, Fulop made the announcement that Jersey City will be shelving its plans for yet another 4th of July extravaganza, citing concerns over COVID-19 and its economic ramifications.
“Over the years we’ve worked really hard to build our Jersey City 4th of July celebration to being one of the best in the country,” said Fulop. “As the city is in a tough situation, we have to make responsible choices. We’ve directed all of our 4th of July Sponsors that instead of supporting our #July4th Festival which we’ve grown to be the largest firework show in NJ w/world class talent + 150k attendees – we asked sponsors to give to #JerseyCity Covid Relief Fund to help residents recover.”
As Hudson County continues to battle the coronavirus, celebration seems pretty far from people’s minds right now. Independence Day 2020 will likely be an emotionally challenging time here in our area.
“We will find a way to appropriately celebrate the 4th of July in JC in a different way but today, the money [can be] better used to help people. In this environment we are making choices on what is needed for our community.” Fulop optimistically states, “We will be back in 2021 with a bigger celebration though.”
A month ago, Jersey City estimated its economic impact from the COVID-19 pandemic to be in the range of $70 million. The City has since extended offers to personnel for early retirement packages, in an effort to soften the blow.
For taxpayers, the City announced that it will put forth a proposal at the next Municipal Council meeting for the elimination of the Jersey City Open Space Trust Fund tax this year. Such a move would equate to over $1 million in savings for taxpayers.
“We remain committed to preserving our parks and open space and will continue to do so,” said Fulop, “but right now it’s critical to relieve the financial pressures our taxpayers are currently under as much as possible.”
Fulop has also asked that an Arts Referendum planned for the November ballot be put on hold for the immediate future. The proposal to implement the special levy was announced in February, but a lot has changed since then.
“We were the first to put out an actionable plan supporting sustainable funding to benefit our burgeoning arts industry and our residents, but the world is changed today and we want to minimize the impact on our taxpayers as much as possible,” said Fulop. “There is a lot of uncertainty between now and November, so we want to do the responsible thing and start making the tough decisions now so that we can better plan as we come to realize the full magnitude of the pandemic’s economic impacts.”
Local musician Sylvana Joyce understands the situation, but sees the Arts community as a group that will be severely impacted by the fallout from this crisis.
“Artists, especially those in performance, are among those getting hit the hardest by the shutdowns. In lieu of an arts tax, we need to make sure we are re-allocating that energy and money to artists in the form of economic aid,” says Joyce. “We’ve been struggling, we continue to struggle, the aim and the plea is the same. Our community turns to artists as leaders, and especially in times of strife, our community seeks art to heal. This crisis doesn’t change the fact that artists are an essential component of a community.”
She adds, “You can call the financial aid by a different name, you can put the name ‘coronavirus’ in front of it, we still need that financial assistance—now more than ever.”