Newark, N.J., Mayor Ras Baraka is calling for the power to establish new taxes for users of the city's airport and seaport as way to raise additional revenue.
The mayor said during his first state of the city address on March 17 that he would like to place a $1 tax on every item sold at Newark Liberty International Airport. Baraka also proposed taxing containers that move through Newark Seaport, which like the airport is operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
"If that happened, we would never have our hand out again," said Baraka in his remarks about what the new revenue would mean for the city. "We just need the right to take care of ourselves, the right to govern ourselves."
Mayor Baraka, who was elected in May 2014 after his predecessor Cory Booker captured a U.S. Senate seat, also urged more support from the Port Authority saying that the agency has managed the airport and seaport "horrendously." Baraka said if the agency does not become more supportive of Newark's needs he was prepared to issue a request for proposals to sell the seaport.
Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman said in response to Baraka's criticisms and tax proposals that the agency paid Newark $291.6 million in rent over the last three years for the airport and seaport equating to $97.2 million a year. The city's airport and seaport leases with the Port Authority expire in 2065.
Newark, New Jersey's largest city, was downgraded by Moody's Investors Service in May 2014 to Baa1 from A3 due to depleted reserves and liquidity. Moody's also placed Newark along with six other New Jersey municipalities on review for a possible downgrade on March 13 due to a risk of state aid cuts.