Gov. Phil Murphy vetoed the minutes of a June 11 meeting of the South Jersey Port Corporation’s board of directors on Friday.
The board approved the lease of two commercial buildings at 1535 Broadway, totaling roughly eight acres, to Camden Iron & Metal for $70,000 a year for 15 years with the option to renew for two more 15-year periods.
The rent would increase in line with the consumer price index.
“Considering the large size and location of the subject property, the existing improvements, and a possible cumulative term equal to 45 years, I have significant concerns as to whether the proposed rent structure is fair and reasonable,” Murphy wrote in his veto letter. “Amidst numerous public accounts of Camden’s ascent, which I fully support, I would expect that property values, particularly those close to Camden’s waterfront, will rise at a pace that exceeds inflation over the next half century. Further, I am concerned whether a proper public procurement process was utilized to engage in the negotiations with the proposed tenant.”
The South Jersey Port Corporation has close ties with Senate President Steve Sweeney, a fellow Democrat with whom Murphy has feuded since taking office in 2017.
The governor has repeatedly vetoed the organization’s minutes. In Decembet 2018, Murphy vetoed SJPC minutes that would’ve given raises to the agency’s leadership.
Today’s veto marks the fourth time Murphy has struck the organization’s minutes since taking office.
The move comes as Murphy is feuding with legislative leaders over the state budget and tax incentives meted out by the Economic Development Authority.
Earlier this year, Murphy convened a task force to investigate abuses of the EDA’s incentives.
Much of that task force’s public work has been centered on potentially fraudulent tax incentive applications filed by firms with ties to South Jersey powerbroker George Norcross, a close Sweeney ally.