Jersey City voters have the opportunity to make history this election by approving a non-binding referendum on adding a small levy to property tax bills for a dedicated Arts and Culture Trust Fund.

Similar to dedicated parks funds in Jersey City and other municipalities, the new fund would be the first in the state dedicated to underwriting local arts.

The idea was set in motion long before the pandemic. But the devastation the coronavirus has wreaked on arts programming and livelihoods has served to highlight the need to support and expand the arts.

Far too often, funding for the arts – whether in school or municipal budgets – is seen as expendable when pitted against other line items. Having a dedicated trust fund will counteract such short-sighted thinking.

The arts play so many vital roles in society: helping children learn to express themselves creatively; giving us beauty and thought-provoking works to enjoy and ponder; acting as an economic engine that fosters the growth of neighborhood businesses. Investing in the arts just makes sense.

The proposed new tax is modest – a maximum of 2 cents for every $100 of assessed valuation – so most homeowners will see less than $100 added to their annual tax bill.

Those cents, though, add up nicely.

In 2016, voters approved the same tax levy structure for a Municipal Open Space, Recreation and Historic Property Preservation Fund. By last November, the city had a plan to spend $3 million from the fund for improvements in two to four parks in each of the six wards.

We urge Jersey City voters to say “Yes” on the Municipal Public Question.

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