Bloomfield Council Passes Crash Tax

BY  |  Tuesday, Mar 20, 2012 12:00pm  |  COMMENTS (17)

Members of the Bloomfield Council overrode Mayor Raymond McCarthy’s veto of an appointment to the Parking Authority by a vote of 5-2 at last night’s council meeting. The council also formally approved the “crash tax” to charge a fee to out-of-town residents involved in motor vehicle accidents in Bloomfield.

The appointment of Al Chalet, a relative of Councilman Elias Chalet, to the Parking Authority commission had passed at the February 20 council meeting, with Mayor McCarthy and Councilman Bernard Hamilton voting against the move. McCarthy had subsequently vetoed the appointment of Chalet.

The council had previously voted against the reappointment of Joe Catalano, who had served on the commission for five years, and Chalet was nominated in his stead.

The veto override had been on the agenda at last week’s conference meeting, but Councilman Hamilton, who was acting Mayor for the evening in McCarthy’s absence, ruled it was out of order to address the veto without the Mayor being present, and had asked it be moved to the next conference meeting.

At last night’s meeting, the Mayor stated his veto had nothing to do with Al Chalet personally, but as liaison to the Parking Authority, he felt it had been incorrect to fail to reappoint Catalano.

Councilman Hamilton said that he objected to the veto override being on the agenda at all, as he had requested it be deferred to the next conference meeting so a full discussion could take place prior to a formal vote.

Despite his objections, Councilman Michael Venezia moved ahead and made a motion to override the veto. Five votes were needed to override, and the final vote was 5-2, with McCarthy and Hamilton voting no. The conclusion of the vote prompted cheers from supporters and members of the Chalet family in the audience.

Earlier in the meeting, Steve Crooks, founder of the FELIS 50 charitable event that took place on March 13, announced that the event had been successful and said members of the Bloomfield Fire Department won the FELIS 50 Bicentennial Challenge by partnering with the Brookdale Shop-Rite to bring in over 400 cans of food for the local United Way pantry. They will receive a $150 gift certificate from the Town Pub. He also thanked Councilmen Venezia and Joanow for attending the event.

Michael Sceurman, representing the Bloomfield Bicentennial Committee, announced that the kickoff event for the year’s celebrations will be at Bloomfield High School at 7 p.m. Friday, March 23, 2012. There will be a re-enactment of the signing of the Bloomfield charter, with members of the township council in colonial garb. Sceurman also announced that a Spring Spectacular event will take place on Sunday, March 25 at Pulaski Park, with the “Bicentennial Bunny” arriving by helicopter. Families can have pictures taken with the bunny, and there will be an egg hunt. Bloomfield Animal Shelter will have a tent at the event, and donations will be accepted.

In other business, the council approved a number of ordinances on first reading. These included an ordinance creating a “downtown business improvement zone” in Bloomfield, to replace the currently defined “special improvement district,” as well as an ordinance to create a “motor vehicle accidents response fee for out-of-town residents,” known as a “crash tax.” This fee had been previously approved at a council conference meeting.

The council also approved ordinances governing the management of “steep slope” areas in town, amendments to the Bloomfield Center Redevelopment – Phase II, and the establishment of compensation for Special Law Enforcement Officers, all on second reading.

The next meeting will be a conference meeting to be held on Monday, March 26, 2012, in the 2nd floor conference room in the Law Enforcement Building.

17 Comments

  1. POSTED BY walleroo  |  March 20, 2012 @ 12:21 pm

    Haven’t the Bloomfield councilors heard about competition? Motorists are just going to go to nearby towns and cities that have more favorable tax policies. Nutley, for instance, has no tax at all on motor vehicle accidents. Newark even give out grants for fender benders. Why in the world would anybody choose to have an accident in Bloomfield? What idiots these liberals be.

  2. POSTED BY johnleesandiego  |  March 20, 2012 @ 12:52 pm

    So if some fool runs a stop sign and t-bones me I have to pay off Bloomfield? Some clarifications are needed, or if my understanding of the comment is correct a “hell yeah” would be acceptable.

  3. POSTED BY hobbes  |  March 20, 2012 @ 3:15 pm

    Do we know the exact wording of the ordinance? There are many instances where reporting an accident is required by law. Is Bloomfield then going to turn around and whack you with a fee? This seems an incredibly stupid way to encourage people to spend their money here. Come, visit Bloomfield Center, but make sure nobody hits you while you’re here or you’ll be extra sorry you came!

  4. POSTED BY geoff gove  |  March 20, 2012 @ 4:00 pm

    Looking for the job opening for someone with a fast car to do drivebys on out-of-towners. Anything to make a buck and lower our taxes. Of course, the cops would have to look the other way, but that could be arranged.

  5. POSTED BY kay  |  March 20, 2012 @ 6:17 pm

    John I guess you’d have to add it to your claim in the People’s court!

    Btw, sounds unconstitutional to me!

  6. POSTED BY bleveman  |  March 21, 2012 @ 8:07 am

    Some of these comments are just plain ridiculous. NYC has a very similar ordinance, and it is a growing trend across the country to help offset expenses incurred for emergency response. I don’t know what the official wording is, but the fee isn’t for someone reporting an accident, but for accidents where emergency vehicles respond to the scene. If an accident is severe enough to warrant a police report, than obviously the fee will be administered. Which, in the scheme of things is no big deal since insurance companies will involved anyway.

    Motorists will not drive around Bloomfield to avoid the fee unless they are accident prone.

  7. POSTED BY kay  |  March 21, 2012 @ 9:40 am

    Just because “everyone is doing it” doesn’t mean it’s right. Imagine having your car explode after being nailed by some uninsured fool running a stop sign, you escape gratefully with your life, and then get a bill for $2,000 including $50 for a broom, $20 for ambulance mileage, and $150 worth of orange cones.

    But if people just roll over and accept this sort of nonsense from our ‘elected officials’ then we deserve what we get.

    Dang, I wish I was a lawyer who could afford to fight all the injustice in the world!!

  8. POSTED BY mike 91  |  March 21, 2012 @ 9:48 am

    I believe the original story about this law pointed to a story from another town that found that fees collected weren’t close to what they thought they were.

    Also, anything that would discourage the reporting of accidents to police is in my opinion a bad thing. Even a minor fender bender can bend a frame, which you wouldn’t know right off the bat. Then all of a sudden you need a police report for the insurance. Whoops!

  9. POSTED BY kay  |  March 21, 2012 @ 10:24 am

    After their crash tax ordinance was repealed (whether due to public uproar or due to the fact that PA has banned the practice, I’m not entirely sure) Radnor, PA refunded over $47,000 in accident response fees.

    This morning I saw an accident on McCarter highway. From the position of the front car, he had passed on the right, over a solid white line, and got clipped from behind. He was out of his car yelling at the 2nd car when I arrived. Then he jumped in his Toureg and really zoomed off. I couldn’t see if there was damage to his VW but it looked like the Camry had broken glass under it. I took a cell phone picture. Newark’s typical response is if no one got hurt they are not coming out to take a report (this happened to a close friend of mine who was hit from behind and that’s what they actually told her).

    So let’s recap. (1) Felony hit and run. (2) Cops won’t come out. (3) If they imposed a crash tax they’d be able to afford to come out and make a report. (4) Poor guy who got hit by that jerk in the Toureg will get a crash bill up anywhere from $100 – $500.

    Can’t make this stuff up!!

  10. POSTED BY walleroo  |  March 21, 2012 @ 10:34 am

    I don’t think it’s a hit and run if the guy stopped, got out of his car and yelled at the driver.

  11. POSTED BY kay  |  March 21, 2012 @ 10:43 am

    LOL Roo, I needed that today!

  12. POSTED BY bleveman  |  March 21, 2012 @ 3:03 pm

    Kay,
    The crash tax isn’t open ended, so your comments, “get a bill for $2,000 including $50 for a broom, $20 for ambulance mileage, and $150 worth of orange cones” are strictly based on emotion. As for the other municipality repealing their ordinance one question that has to be asked is, how many expressways go through their borders? The Parkway, although it is a state road is serviced by Bloomfield FD and EMS.

    Finally, if my car is hit and explodes, the last thing I am going to think about is the bill from the town. I’ll walk away thankful for my life.

    If you think it is such nonsense, than how would you raise funds to offset expenses and these services?

  13. POSTED BY g07003  |  March 21, 2012 @ 5:44 pm

    So innocent drivers who don’t live in bloomfield will be penalized $100 if a jackass on a cell phone runs into them….. how about just enforce the “jackass on a cell phone” law instead?

  14. POSTED BY kay  |  March 21, 2012 @ 8:42 pm

    This just says to me that Bloomfield is trying to solve its own revenue problems on the backs of visitors, and I should stay away as much as possible.

    They could also determine which road(s) are most accident prone and install a tollbooth.

  15. POSTED BY walleroo  |  March 21, 2012 @ 9:13 pm

    I hope the Bloomfield cops take American Express.

  16. POSTED BY pat gilleran  |  June 06, 2012 @ 4:56 pm

    “We’re talking about a program that hasn’t worked, that isn’t successful and has hurt us,” Councilman Jerry Kern said at the time. “I think for PR (public relations) alone, we should drop this program and tell people we welcome them to this city.”

Featured Comment

I'm struck by how much attention is being paid to the details of a parking lot, as opposed to the attention paid to the future impact of the monstrous projects being planned.

Tip, Follow, Friend, Subscribe

Links & Information