the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Newton NJ , The members of the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders voted unanimously at their Wednesday night meeting on resolutions urging Governor Phil Murphy to fully reopen Sussex
County businesses in the near future; and a resolution against the increase in taxes and fees on firearms and ammunitions.
“I am very concerned that we will have a poor survival rate of many of our businesses,” said Freeholder Herbert Yardley. “I find it very unfortunate there was not an opportunity to say, ‘Let’s
see if it (a regional reopening) works.’”
Yardley read the resolution into the record before the vote, that advocated for the Governor to fully open both Sussex County and New Jersey. As expressed in the resolution, not only
did the Sussex County Chamber of Commerce testify on Aug. 20 before the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee, a letter was sent by the regional coalition of Sussex, Warren and
Hunterdon County Freeholders on May 28, with concerns about the “one size fits all” approach in reopening New Jersey. The resolution stated that, per the state’s Activity Level Reports for Aug. 8 and 15 for the “Northwest” region of Sussex, Warren, Morris and Passaic Counties, that region has achieved the lowest possible score of 1 for its COVID- 19 Activity Level Index (CALI). The Freeholders, in the resolution, suggested the regional approach, “as a decisive action is needed immediately so businesses will know whether to plan for a further reopening now or a prolonged limit on their business.”
The resolution specifically noted the economic damages Sussex County businesses have endured, with the prolonged partial closure not sustainable for these businesses, including restaurants and gyms; and urged Murphy to work with the
region’s leaders on a safe, regional, reopening plan.
Freeholder Joshua Hertzberg said restaurants and gyms are taking a loss with operations at 25 percent occupancy for indoor capacity, with the gym he belongs to not currently open
yet because it did not make business sense to open at this capacity. Some family-owned businesses open for decades, he said, may have to make the decision to close permanently.
“We’re going to feel the repercussions of this economically for a long time,” said Hertzberg. ”If there’s ever a time to start safely reopening businesses, it’s now. I think we have
to just give them a little more help to be successful.”
Hertzberg also addressed the article on NJ.com, that falsely claimed Sussex County had the highest rate of COVID-19 transmission statewide, an article that has since been syndicated on
MSN.com. He said the state and county numbers show Sussex County is instead “one of the safest places you can be,” with the article potentially scaring away prospective customers and
businesses. He said the publication should “print a retraction and tell the truth.”
“Our businesses in Sussex County continue to hurt today, right now, to the point, in my view, it should be considered as much of a threat to our economic well-being as COVID is to our physical
one,” Freeholder Anthony Fasano said. “Our success to containing this virus was supposed to translate to the successful, safe reopening of our economy. It’s not, despite the fact our business
community and our residents have demonstrated their ability to take proper precaution and limit the spread of this virus, which has resulted in some of the lowest infection rates and some of the
lowest daily cases per capita, in the entire state.”
In her Freeholder comments, Freeholder Deputy Director Dawn Fantasia addressed the Freeholder resolution against the increase in taxes and fees on firearms and ammunitions. She said that many
residents have reached out to her about the Governor’s increase in these fees.
“For the third consecutive year, Governor Murphy has set his sights on curtailing the Second Amendment rights of economically disadvantaged New Jersey citizens, using the COVID-19 pandemic as
pretext,” Fantasia said. “Governor Murphy has yet again budgeted for an exponential increase in fees, taxes and surcharges on gun owners.”
She called it “thinly-veiled discrimination” that those with economic disadvantages would now have to pay more for their Second Amendment rights. She said legal action has been the only way
to “move the needle” on the Murphy Administration, such as when firearms retailers were deemed “non-essential” at the start of the pandemic; and Murphy’s justification for not allowing them to
initially open was it was above his pay grade to think about the Bill of Rights. Among those fees she named, was the increase of the firearms purchaser ID card from
$5 to $100, a permit to purchase from $2 to $50, a duplicate ID card for which there was previously no fee to $50, initial application for a retail dealer license from $50 to $500 and for
a manufacturing permit from $150 to $1,500.
The resolution, which Fantasia read into the record, opposed the fees and taxes proposed, noting more than a dozen increases to the state’s gun fees,
including a 2.5 percent tax increase on firearms and a 10 percent increase on ammunition. The resolution read that these fees, would unduly burden citizens’ Constitutional Rights.