Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assembly Republican members Alison Littell McHose and Parker Space that would allow for voluntary contributions by taxpayers on gross income tax returns for the development of the Northern New Jersey Veterans Memorial Cemetery was signed today by Gov. Christie.
“Currently, taxpayers may choose to give a portion of their tax refund to a variety of funds, including breast cancer research, drug abuse education and child abuse prevention, all of which are worthy causes,” said McHose, R-Sussex, Warren and Morris. “Veterans and their families in Northern New Jersey, who have sacrificed so much, will now be given the same opportunity to benefit from the generosity of taxpayers. I’m certain our residents will support this effort to provide a final resting place for the men and women who courageously served our nation.”
Northern New Jersey does not have a designated veterans’ cemetery. The state-operated Brigadier General William C. Doyle Memorial Cemetery, located in Wrightstown, Burlington County is at least a two hour drive for most residents of Northern New Jersey. In addition, the only national cemeteries in the area, maintained by the Veterans Administration, are located in Beverly, NJ and in Pennsylvania and New York. The other veterans’ cemeteries in the state – in Atlantic, Cumberland, Cape May, Gloucester and Salem counties – are all operated by their respective county governments.
“The veterans who initiated this movement to build a graveyard exclusively for their fellow colleagues of the armed forces in an underserved area of our region are to be commended,” said Space, R-Sussex, Warren and Morris. “With the signing of this bill today, their effort will help ease a burden on their surviving families who currently must travel long distances to bury and visit the grave site of their loved one. It’s a fitting tribute to our veterans.”
The bill, A-126, establishes the “Northern New Jersey Veterans Memorial Cemetery Development Fund” and provides for a designation on the state gross income tax return that will permit taxpayers to make voluntary contributions to the fund. The monies will facilitate the development and operation of the Northern New JerseyVeterans Memorial Cemetery.
There are about 100,000 veterans in the Northern New Jersey region. A group of veterans initiated the movement to build the cemetery, will be the state’s first nonprofit cemetery, and have secured a 66-acre parcel of land in Sparta, Sussex County. The New Jersey Cemetery Board approved the application in January and the cemetery’s ground breaking ceremony will be on May 31.
Once complete, there will be a section in the cemetery for about 16,000 graves and another section for remains. Sussex County, which donated the land, has pledged $50,000. Once the cemetery is operating, organizers of the project expect it to be self-sustaining.
Sen. Steve Oroho, R-Sussex, Warren and Morris, is the prime sponsor of the Senate version of the legislation, S-361.