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Township Commissioners Aim for No Tax Increase

From the Retrospect

On the same day that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced sweeping cuts in aid to schools and municipalities, Haddon Township Mayor Randy Teague said that the commissioners anticipated introducing a municipal budget with no tax increase.

Early indicators from the Governor’s speech suggested a 20% cut in municipal aid which township clerk Denise Adams said equals about $300,000. Teague is proposing that the township adopt an accelerated tax sale program, which would cover that shortfall in aid.
An accelerated tax sale, explained township solicitor Stuart Platt, allows a town to collect all of the revenue a town assesses in a given year. Typically, a town like Haddon Township collects around 97% of the taxes. Municipalities are required to have a reserve to cover the uncollected taxes, which, in essence, is covered through a higher tax rate by the 97% that are current on their taxes.
Platt explained that under an accelerated tax sale plan, a municipality can get to the equivalent of 100% collection by speeding up the tax sale process. If the commissioners decide to switch to an accelerated tax sale this coming year, then a one-time infusion of about $300,000 would be collected by the sale of the delinquent 3%. That amount would roughly cover the anticipated loss in state aid this year.
Teague and Platt said the infusion would be for one year only but advocated another benefit of adopting an accelerated tax sale. The change would reduce the tax rate somewhat by eliminating the current system of having 97% of taxpayers cover the entire tax assessment.
Adams and township tax collector Jennifer DellaValle expressed reservations about switching to an accelerated tax sale system. “Once you go there,” DellaValle said, “you can never go back.”
Regular meeting attendee and Haddon Township resident Ed Loughman said he did not favor a switch to accelerated tax sales. He added that at one time, he participated in buying back taxes. “This may benefit the town in the short term but not in the long term,” he said.
“This will help reduce the tax burden,” Teague responded.
“I understand that perfectly,” Loughman said, noting that he is a Republican who favors small government. He said, though, that most people on tax sales “are in unfortunate circumstances” and the issue is not as simple as it may seem.
If the commissioner do decide to switch to an accelerated tax sale system, they will need to adopt a resolution to that effect at a future meeting, Platt said.
In other business:
• The township’s property tax revaluation process is underway with letters sent to all property owners outlining the process.
Teague noted that he had not seen the letter at his home, a complaint shared by many in town. The problem, Commissioner Paul Dougherty said, is that the plain envelope in which the letter arrived “looked like a solicitation letter.”
Several residents in the audience confirmed that they, too, had not seen the letter.
A representative for Professional Property Appraisers Inc. (PPA) agreed to undertake another mailing with the township. The outside envelope will be designed to make the official business of revaluation more apparent. The commissioners also plan to include letters explaining the need to conduct the revaluation.
Teague said the second mailing should be sent in a week’s time. After that PPA will be allowed to begin field visits to see the interior of properties. Already, the exterior of every property in town has been digitally photographed. PPA’s field representative will have identification, a badge, company-issued jacket and shirt, and be registered with the township police department.
• The town’s business improvement district (BID) program could see some expansion reported BID director Kate Burns.
Two former residential properties on Haddon Ave., near the town border with Haddonfield, are now business uses. One property is the new home of Haddon Group Realty and the other is currently unoccupied but was last used as an office.
Also, Burns said, Tap Room prinicipal Joe Kreps expressed interest in including the Crystal Lake Ave. establishment in the BID program. Burns has discussed the benefits of program which is funded by a special tax on business properties. Kreps, she said, wondered if other Crystal Lake business properties should also be included, particularly the nearby supermarket and shopping plaza.
In a related matter, tenants of the Westmont Shopping Plaza and Cuthbert Rd. have at times asked for BID services. Burns said she has had to inform them that there is little she can do since they are not a part of the BID. She said she has had discussions with the center’s leasing agent about including the Kimco-owned plaza.
• Resident Tom Cassel noted last week’s article in The Retrospect about a potential opening of an Iron Hill Brewery location on the White Horse Pike in Barrington. He wondered if the Westmont Theatre might be a logical location instead.
Teague said he, too, had read the article and reached out to Iron Hill last week. He has not heard back.
Burns said that a year ago she tried to interest Iron Hill in visiting available sites in Haddon Township. Their representatives, she said, balked at the mention of Haddon Township because of the proximity to P.J. Whelihan’s and sister restaurants Pour House and Treno.
• Township engineer Greg Fusco noted that the streets of the Bettlewood neighborhood have taken an especially bad beating this winter with the pending sewer replacement work. The contractor, he added, has been very cooperative but unable to do much yet because of the weather.
A road maintenance project is expected to go out to bid to deal with potholes across town. Public works superintendent Jimmy Stevenson said much work can be done in house but a number of intersections need more substantial work. Those jobs, he said, should be sent out to bid. Fusco will work on specifications for that work.


13 Responses

  1. It certainly help if township employees such as Betty Band were required to pay their taxes on time. Every tax sale she pays up to date on all her properties. How does that help the towns finances???

    • You can check taxes and water/sewer on the township website. You didn’t even pay your 1st quarter taxes OR water and sewer bill. So how are you helping the town’s finances? Maybe, before you call people out on things, you shouldn’t be guilty of it.

      • First off u should have your facts updated… that is not the case…Second, I do not have 4 -6 properties that I continually don’t pay.

        I certainly can call someone on something when it’s has gone on for years and they work within the twp so should be the first to pay their bills.

        • Oh, it IS the case.

          Also, “they work within the twp so should be the first to pay their bills.”

          Is that the law? Or just your personal feeling?

          • Sawchuck is right again.

            Everyone in town knows about Betty and George and their properties.

            Why does B Band still have a position in the municipal building?

          • again get the facts…that is not the case

            Extremely dumb question…of course it’s my opinion which is why I saw “should”

            To below Anon: I have wondered the same thing since I was there a year didn’t see much knowledge or production coming out of that office

            • again, it IS the facts. sheesh, you are totally lying. you HAVE NOT paid your 1st quarter taxes or water/sewer bill. i am not making it up, but you surely are making up facts. typical sawchuck. call the tax office my dear…you have not paid. so go ahead, throw more stones. it’s entertaining!

              • I was thinking it was 3rd qtr because of the way we receive our bills. Now that you mention the water and sewer I don’t recall receiving a card. Gee now we are all happy

                1 month late on a tax bill compares to 3-5 properties 9 months late every single year… how?

                So yes I will continue to throw stones

  2. I commend them for attempting not to raise taxes. It is clear that the schools will not be so lucky. But we all need to understand that if they are filling the gap of the 3-3.5% increases that they gave all township employees this year and next and next using a one time tax collection gimmick, next year and the year after they will have the same hole in the budget because it is a one time event. Interestingly, when I pointed this out at the meeting they tried to spin it differently but the Retro’s coverage nailed the issue. You cannot expect for a one time tax collection benefit to fill the future holes created by the losing recurring annual state aid. Additional cuts are needed.

  3. Why do the citizens have to “feel the pain” of the finances while they elected officials pass pay raises for the township employees during the biggest recession in the past 50 years?

    How about some belt-tightening around the municipal building.
    a pledge to freeze all salaries at their current level. Repeal the projected salary increases until a time of better fiscal health.

    If current employees don’t like not getting a raise they can leave and I’m certain we can find other people to work the jobs.

    Perhaps all contracted positions should be re-posted? Maybe we can find cheaper engineer and solicitor in this time of fiscal crisis?

    Perhaps some positions should be eliminated?

    Whenever I walk into the municipal building I see a lot of people doing a lot of nothing.

  4. Relating to the contracted positions, this is an opportunity for the commissioners to do some fundraising. Since 62% of the people listed on the ELEC disclosure forms got financial payments/contracts from the town, if they “rebid”, they can solicit even more money for their reelection. The engineer is a donor. The former solicitor is a donor. Even the new head of public works is a donor. If there is a chance any of these will be changed, they can just go to these people for more money upon threat of replacement. This is all perfectly legal. Under the pay to play rules that these commissioners passed, they are incented to go year after year for reelection money in small chunks. But our town all knows the game. Is it totally a sham that they passed a law that tolerates any donations at all and continue to take money from the people being hired. The problem is the total lack of ethics involved not whether is meets the technical legality of the law.

    The main point. One of the reasons that our taxes are so high is systemic moral corruption.

    • I cannot understand what is going on here? We pay high taxes but while other towns are building up their business centers ours looks like a dump!

      Now I hear that they want to turn the Russel Cast Stone location into 100% low income housing! That sure will attract business to our town.

      Way to go guys!

  5. […] in Haddon Township debated the merits of holding an accelerated tax sale as they sought to deliver to residents a budget with […]

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