To support local businesses and put downward pressure on residential property taxes, Marlboro officials said the township will launch a property tax reward program June 21.
The program allows residents to receive credits against their property tax bills by visiting Marlboro-based participating merchants. Deputy Mayor Lawrence Rosen said if residents spend enough money at local businesses over the year, the program could pay 100 percent of their property taxes.
"The theory behind the program is if our municipality makes a long-term, sustained commitment to the private sector, it would give us a competitive advantage to get businesses to relocate to Marlboro," said Rosen, also director of the township's Economic Development Committee. "This is something the private sector has been doing for a long time with credit cards, so we figured, why can't municipalities do rewards programs, too?"
"The benefit for vendors is that if people have the choice between going to dinner in Marlboro or Freehold, they'll choose Marlboro, because it will credit their property taxes," Rosen said. "While it's ultimately up to the businesses for the amount of the rebate, I think businesses will see people frequent stores based on their discount. If two restaurants are right next to each other, and one offers a 10 percent rebate and the other one offers a 5 percent one, you know where people are going to go."
To implement the Property Tax Reward program, Marlboro has partnered with third-party administrator Fincredit Inc., which will offer the rebates at what Rosen said amounts to virtually no cost to taxpayers. He said program fees will be paid for by the participating businesses, but doesn't expect the costs to be more than a few cents per dollar.
Investors Bank is sponsoring the program and providing 30,000 Shop Marlboro cards to residents at no charge.
Rosen said the cards will be distributed soon after the June 21 meeting, with 200 local merchants scheduled to kick off the program. Once the cards are operational, the program's website will allow residents to register online and browse a list of participating merchants and reward rates, as well as view their card activity and tax savings and add additional cards for household members. The site also will link to merchants' websites, Rosen said.