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Fwd: Road Warrior: State Budget and Taxes, Compliance Calendar Update, Bans Proposed

June 27, 2024

Compliance Calendars Revised

Earlier this year, we sent members a link to the 2024 New Jersey Fuel Dispensing Facilities Compliance Calendar for station owners to download.

The DEP's compliance calendar is an essential too, and we have continually encouraged members to use it every day to keep them on track and prevent easily avoidable fines or violations. A few months after we sent out that link, we received word from several members pointing out a series of glaring calendar errors.  For example:

• In May, the DEP calendar began on Monday, May 1st (rather than Wednesday, May 1st, as it truly is) and listed “two” 26ths and 27ths for some reason.

• In June, the entry was listed as “June 2023” rather than “June 2024”, and the calendar was missing the 29th and the 30th for that month. 

• In July, the entry was listed as “July 2023” rather than “July 2024”, and the month started on Saturday the 1st (rather than Monday, July 1st, as it truly is).

There were other mistakes, but you get the general idea. 

Clearly there were some entries that carried over from the previous year, items were deleted or moved, and DEP didn’t catch the mistakes before it was published.

We reached out to our DEP contacts and offered up a list of mistakes that needed to be corrected. 

Thankfully, most of the errors seemed to have been concentrated from May to September, so station owners who have been dutifully using the calendar were not inconvenienced until very recently. 

We now have a revised calendar in hand, with our list of mistakes and omissions incorporated into the final document.

You can find the revised compliance calendar on our website by clicking HERE.

Since the errors on the “old” 2024 calendar mostly span late-spring to early-fall, and every month appears on it’s own sheet, you don’t have to waste time transferring information or re-writing earlier daily entries.  

Rather, we suggest just swapping out the “wrong” pages from your current calendar, for the “new” pages in the updated calendar. That should keep any reordering and paper shuffling to a minimum – and make it rather painless. 

Our thanks to all the eagle-eyed members who caught these mistakes and sent us notes on the individual errors.  This was very helpful as we combined our list to send over to DEP. 

Printing hiccup aside, we are now halfway through the year, and this is an opportune moment to remind everyone to use the calendar to keep your compliance checks on track.  Print out the revised version and keep it close on hand. Using the calendar isn't only a good habit to have, it will also save you from possible headaches and costly penalties if DEP comes to your station inquiring after your environmental compliance.  

Please call or email or call 732-256-9646 if you have any questions. 

Budget Bill On Verge of Passage

The big question going into this year's state budget was what taxes to increase. Cutting any of our numerous tax rates, most of which are among the nation's highest, was not on the table. Inflation is hitting State expenses too, and free money from the federal government provided because of covid-19 has been spent. The State has a $4 billion structural deficit heading into this budget, and legislative leadership (all Democrats like the Governor) decided to move forward with the Governor's proposed surtax on c-corp net profits earned in the state of over $10 million per year, a 2.5% tax on top of the 9% tax that already exists. This means NJ will go from the 4th highest corporate tax to the first. 

While none of our members are making those kinds of profits, there is a real risk that those companies which do (there are about 600 companies total) will simply pass those costs on to consumers, which can include small business owners making purchases for the business and/or their families. It's also bad for the overall economy, as this terrible climate for businesses to invest in the state will ultimately continue to suffocate our overall economy, which will hurt overall state tax revenues, which will continue to increase the pressure on legislators to keep taxes high and if anything raise them further. On the other hand, it is possible that some of this tax burden will fall on some of our competitors, like Costco and Wawa, which could be helpful. The surcharge is scheduled to expire after 5 years, but twice already it has been scheduled to expire and extended by the Legislature. Still, this tax will only collect about $1 billion per year. 

There had been much behind the scenes discussion about the possibility of raising the state sales tax from 6.625% back to 7%, which would also raise a similar amount of money. Ultimately, legislative leaders have opted not to increase that tax. I expect we will see more discussion of this potential increase next year, when the State will likely again be in a deficit. Our sales tax is basically the only major tax rate in which NJ is not in the highest tier, which makes it a target for further increase in the eyes of those Democratic members of the government who write and approve the budget.  

Also dropped from the budget was a proposal from the Governor to create a new tax of $1 every time a truck leaves a warehouse anywhere in the State. This would have increased the cost of doing business every time you get products delivered, whether they be auto parts or soda bottles. Once the taxation system was set up, we also expected it would not be long before that $1 tax became $10. Thankfully it is not moving forward this year.

The rest of the structural deficit is being filled by spending down the State's surplus 'rainy day' fund (to the tune of $2 billion out of the current $8 billion in reserves), redirecting $400 million from a fund that had been dedicated to paying off old debts, and most of the rest is filled with one shot revenue increases. 

In total it spends $56.6 billion in the coming year, an increase of $2.3 billion over last year's. Lawmakers added in about $700 million in spending on top of the Governor's February proposal, some of which is restoring proposed funding cuts and other spending is special projects (often located in the districts of influential legislators).

The budget also will require sales tax be charged on new EVs again, starting October 1st at a partial rate, and then the full tax July 1 of next year. That will be on top of the $250 a year registration fee passed a few weeks ago as part of the reauthorization of the Transportation Trust Fund. Since registration fees on new cars are paid for the first four years at the time of purchase, a new EV will cost about $2,300 more in three months, and $3,600 more next year.

You may also remember the last two years there was a temporary “back to school” sales tax holiday, in which certain items had to be exempted from sales tax for those ten days. That program has been repealed and will not occur this year, or going forward. 

Assuming the Legislature does pass the budget on Friday and the Governor signs it before July 1st, there will no be a government shutdown, which means no disruption to lottery ticket sales. As a reminder, if there is a state shutdown, even if just for a few hours, it would prevent the sale of draw games and prevent the Lottery Commission from restocking scratch-off tickets (though tickets still in stock can be sold until the store runs out). Vehicle Inspections would continue at PIFs in the event of a shutdown, but not at CIFs, and there would be no one to call if there were any problems and no way to get more stickers until the shutdown was over. The last time the State had a shutdown was in 2017. 

There were serious rumors in the Statehouse that the heat stress standards bill we've discussed before would be thrown into the mix for a quick hearing and final passage as part of the budget deal. Apparently the Governor very much wanted it passed. Thankfully, we and others were able to push back long enough to hold it off. You can read more of the details of this extreme re-write of our entire employment economy HERE. As an example of the (many) terrible provisions of this bill, if any employee is exposed to heat of over 80 degrees (whether working in the shop or attending the pumps), they would need to be given 32 ounces of water chilled to at least 59 degrees, if not then they would be able to sue their employer. Expect it to come up again in the fall when the Legislature starts up Committee hearings again. 

Committee Moves Bill to Ban Gas-Powered Leaf blowers 

Last Thursday the Senate Environment Committee passed a bill sponsored by Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex) that would ban the sale of two-stroke gasoline powered leaf blowers in the state, and ban the use of these blowers 4 years after bill passage. Four-stroke blowers would not be able to be used in residential areas 4 years after passage, though could be used on commercial properties. 

Professional landscapers were generally opposed to this bill, as being forced to buy new equipment, including packs of batteries, will be a cost passed on to their customers, which would include your businesses. The bill is also a problem because it will cut down on the retail sale of gasoline, both to landscapers and to individual homeowners. Lawn equipment in general actually uses a meaningful amount of gasoline, much of which is purchased from retail gas stations. A commercial leaf blower working all day will use about 5 gallons of gas, so in the aggregate for the state across all landscapers and all residents, it will have an impact. The bill passed the Committee and has been referred to the Budget Committee. Since the rise of people working from home, the noise pollution of leaf blowers has become a bigger concern for suburban advocates and lawmakers.

At the same hearing, the Committee also passed a bill that would order the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to create a building electrification program. It leaves the details of that program vague, but many fear their program could force businesses and homeowners to remove all of their natural gas and heating oil equipment and replace everything (including stoves and water heaters) with new electric equipment. That bill has also been referred to the Budget Committee. 

Gray Market Substances

There are a few products that are being sold in the marketplace that are of questionable legality and impact. Smoke shops dominate the market for these products, but they have been sold at independent convenience stores and some gas stations as well. There have been several separate bills recently to ban several of these products. This week we saw the first movement on a bill to completely ban Kratom products. It was being advocated for by a woman whose son died recently from an overdose of kratom products which he developed an addiction to. On the other hand, there are many who say these products are very helpful to them, and that instead of a ban they should be regulated. You can read more HERE

Also moving is legislation to ban the sale of Delta-8 and Delta-10 THC products. These are a kind of synthetic marijuana that was accidentally legalized by the federal farm bill that legalized hemp products a few years ago. These products are intoxicating, but are also being sold without regulation to customers who don't even realize they are intoxicating, in several cases to minors. Because they are unregulated, often times these products actually contain illegal and dangerous substances. There is legislation moving through committee that would ban all of these current products currently on the market, then allow the Cannabis Regulatory Commission to approve them on an individual basis, but only for sale at official cannabis stores.

Do you have any thoughts about these products? What we've heard so far from our members is that they do not sell them. Ultimately, NJGCA represents the interests of its dues-paying membership. Arguably getting these products off the market and having one standard for every store is the best course, on the other hand in a free market businesses should be able to sell anything to consenting adults. Reach out to to let us know.

Reminder for Federal Overtime Rule change on Monday July 1st

A reminder that on Monday July 1st there is still scheduled to be a change in the federal overtime threshold. As you likely know, certain types of employees are exempt from overtime work based on their job duties. You may have managers or assistant/office managers who are paid a flat salary rather than a tracked hourly rate. If a salary is below a certain level, then an employee must be paid time-and-a-half every time they work more than 40 hours in a week, no matter what their job responsibilities are. 

Currently, that salary threshold is $684 a week ($35,568 a year). Starting July 1st, that minimum salary will be $844 a week ($43,888 a year). Starting July 1, 2025 that minimum salary will be $1,128 a week ($58,656). 

If you have a salaried worker making less than those amounts, you will need to either increase their pay to that level, or begin tracking all of their hours worked in order to ensure that they receive overtime wages anytime they work more than 40 hours a week. Even if you are confident they will never work more than 40 hours in a week, you would still need to formally track them. If a Department of Labor official finds an employee who works 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, spending even just an extra 10 minutes or so a day working (perhaps while opening/closing), that adds up to an hour a week they legally need to be compensated for at time-and-half wages, and they will go back years to force that 'back pay' be given out, plus fines.

There are lawsuits that have been filed challenging this rule, but so far they have not progressed far enough to stop the rule going into effect. There is still a chance that a judge will delay the implementation of the rule, and they could issue the order as late as June 30th, or even after the rule goes into effect. Until then, you should prepare for it to go into effect. 

Don't forget the importance of complying with these laws, even on the technicalities. We still sometimes see shopowners who have an arrangement with a non-exempt employee (like a technician) where they will be paid a flat wage no matter the exact number of hours worked in any given week. This is illegal, pay must be structured at one rate for hours 1-40, and then 1.5x that rate for every individual hour over 40 in a given week. It doesn't matter if the flat rate is a more than fair rate, or if the employee prefers the flat rate, DOL will hit you with a lengthy fine, then send out a press release about how you cheated your employee. This happened just last week to a restaurant

Feel free to reach out to 732-256-9646 anytime with questions, or you can read more from DOL HERE and HERE

Rack Averages

Date Rack Avg Avg w Taxes Low Rack
06/20 249.06 $3.0976 239.35
06/21 250.44 $3.1114 241.18
06/24 250.46 $3.1116 239.48
06/25 251.59 $3.1229 241.44
06/26 254.53 $3.1523 245.28
Date Avg Retail Avg Margin Diesel Rack Avg
06/20 $3.40 0.32 254.00
06/21 $3.40 0.30 250.67
06/24 $3.39 0.28 254.32
06/25 $3.39 0.28 253.42
06/26 $3.39 0.27 256.79

News Worth Knowing:

Member Benefit Partner (MBP) Spotlight: Consumers Oil

Consumers Oil Corporation has been exceeding expectations in gas delivery for more than 85 years and we’d like to discuss how we can partner with you to reach your goals. We distribute ExxonMobil and Shell fuels.

Third generation family owned and operated, we take pride in doing business the “old fashioned way,” with a personal touch. Our strategy throughout the years has been to align ourselves with branded dealers who see the value of a quality brand. In fact, Consumers Oil Corporation proudly boasts more than 40 years as an ExxonMobil branded marketer and nearly as long with Shell.

Looking to sell or lease your location? Feel free to contact us. Consumers Oil Corporation is happy to work with you. Based in Trenton, New Jersey, we own and supply stations throughout the state and in Eastern Pennsylvania markets. Our philosophy is simple: We believe in straight-forward, honest business dealings, offering competitive supply contracts and providing personal hands-on service.

Contact: Stacey Fineburg, 609-394-8282, 

Available Real Estate

Cape Harbor Shell

**Price Reduction**

795 Route 109, Unit B, Lower Township, NJ, 08204

Contact: Jerry 609-425-8837 

Click HERE to view listing

Station for Sale

Thriving High Profit Gas/Service Station close to Major Highway in Prime Location. 

This Exclusive Gas Station is the Sole Provider in the entire town, achieving a remarkable fuel profit of up to and sometimes over 1$ a gallon. Consistently selling 45,000 gallons monthly. Most fuel customers come from Highway so fuel prices do not have to be competitive. 

Also included with the Property is a Reputable High End Auto Repair Facility. Repair shop has all required Specialty and Diagnostic Tools for servicing mostly High End Vehicles. Advertising is no longer used do to an enormous Demand and large Customer Base. Repair Business has has potential for increased profitability and expansion, the business is open to experienced buyers for a possible partnership or profit sharing arrangement. Location is 1 out of 100. Fuel sales make 20-40K a month and repairs can do the same with the right operator. 

This one of a kind opportunity can include seller financing for those with High-Level Automotive or Gas Station Experience.

Contact Greg

Our Road Warrior newsletter is brought to you by the following Member Benefit Partners:

New Jersey Gasoline-Convenience-Automotive Association
615 Hope Road, Bldg. 2, 1st Floor
Eatontown, NJ 07724


Phone: 732-256-9646

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