By Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor
Like many New Jerseyans, residents in Bayonne are looking for ways to reduce their property taxes.
“Property taxes are going up just like any other place,” said Walter Wilkes.
“Everything’s so expensive in Bayonne,” said Norma Correa.
A card could offer relief for tax-plagued Bayonne residents. It’s already being used in Marlboro as part of a property tax reward program. Homeowners who make a purchase with it at a local participating business get a credit on their tax bill.
“I’ve been on it since it opened and I think it’s great. I saved money on my taxes,” said Marlboro Township resident Pat Jarazo.
“As a whole, in the first cycle, which ended in April, our taxpayers saved $20,000,” said Marlboro Township Mayor Jonathan Hornik. “It’s been a huge success. I’ve actually saved $560 off my taxes in the last eight months.”
Marlboro merchants, who pay a fee to participate, like the goal of the program, which is to encourage people to patronize local businesses.
“People come here, they get 10 percent off their bill and I think it really works out at the end of the year. And I think that I’m gonna have the advantage over my competitor all the time,” said Bagel Talk owner Anthony Comi.
“Here at Chips Salon, we’re really excited about the Shop Marlboro program. We did notice that a lot of our clients are using it and they are utilizing the offers that Shop Marlboro does offer, which is great for property taxes to be lower. Who doesn’t want that?” asked Harleigh Burst, senior stylist at Chips Salon.
Several other municipalities are expected to implement a similar program. Among them, Bayonne, where 25 businesses have already signed up to participate.
“I think it’s a win for both of us. For us as a retailer and as the customer. We see a lot of familiar faces come in every month for prescriptions and refills, but hopefully we’ll see some new ones coming in as well,” said Hudacko’s Pharmacy owner Brian Host.
Like many downtown business districts, mom and pop shops in Bayonne have struggled to compete and survive. Longtime merchants hope this program will give them a much needed boost.
“Bayonne has a changing population that aren’t familiar with the local stores. But I think the recession has a lot to do with it. I think we haven’t bounced back completely since then,” said Al Richards Chocolates owner Fred Stancampiano.
Bouncing back will take community support, which is what this program is all about.
“We’re pretty confident that people will stay local. I think Any incentive will help people shop in Bayonne. It’ll be good for Bayonne and good for us,” Al’s Chocolates owner said.
And it’s expected to be good for the more than 60,000 residents, including those who pay on average nearly $8,000 a year in property taxes.
But it’s not just for homeowners. Renters in Bayonne can also sign up. Their credit will come in the form of a rebate check.
More than 11,000 cards are being mailed out to residents. Thousands of others will be distributed through major employers, tenant associations and at city hall.