Local shopping program would benefit residents, businesses

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By VASHTI HARRIS
Staff Writer

EAST BRUNSWICK — Sworn in and ready for business, the newly assembled Township Council is starting the year off by trying to get the Shop East Brunswick program off the ground.

Recently appointed Mayor Brad Cohen began his term by inviting a company called FinCredit Inc. to discuss its rewards program designed to help residents save money on their property taxes.

FinCredit Inc.’s President and CEO Carmine de Falco gave a presentation about his company’s Property Tax Card Program (PTCP) on Jan. 9 at the year’s first council meeting.

If PTCP is implemented, residents will be given a township-issued card so when they shop at a local business they will receive a deduction on their property taxes.

[By] using a township-issued property tax card, residents enjoy a direct relief on their property tax bills; [businesses] enjoy a higher local awareness and revenues, and the township benefits from lower vacancies, more local jobs and happier residents, according to FinCredit Inc.’s official website.

“We are currently live in 21 townships. We are also in discussions with several other townships interested in the program. Just recently the City of Newark passed an ordinance. Other interested towns include Franklin, Bedminster, Washington and, of course, East Brunswick,” de Falco said.

During his 2016 mayoral campaign, Cohen voiced his concerns about high property taxes and expressed the need to implement the Shop East Brunswick program.

“The number one concern that most residents have in East Brunswick, and in New Jersey for that matter, are property taxes being so high. This program will help give residents a discount on their property taxes just for shopping locally. The Shop East Brunswick program is going to be as successful as we make [it],” Cohen said.

Councilman James Wendell did express some concerns about the program during the meeting, fearing that the PTCP would affect existing discount cards used by various groups in East Brunswick as fundraising opportunities.

If the program is approved, FinCredit Inc. will provide the township with PTCP cards to distribute to their residents.

“Much depends on the town. We recommend mail distribution. However, some of our towns make cards available at their library, program sponsors and at participating businesses,” de Falco said.

Usually the cards are sponsored by a local business or bank, which in return provides them with additional free marketing and costs the town next to nothing.

“Each card only costs $1. Most towns find sponsors (such as a bank or local business) willing to pay for the cards. For that investment, the name of the sponsor is imprinted on the card. So, essentially the sponsor is getting marketing for its business. Considering that the cards do not expire, the sponsor enjoys years of marketing for their investment,” de Falco said.

Currently the township’s goal is to try and get the program started by May 1, according to Cohen.  

“At the next town council meeting on Jan. 23, it will become an ordinance, so if the council has any more questions or concerns they can voice them further. Then it will require a second vote at the following council meeting on Feb. 9,” Cohen said.

On average, it takes about seven to nine months for a town to implement this program, according to de Falco.

“Residents [would] need to register their card on our web portal. The registration form requires also their property block and lot. This is how we track property tax savings,” de Falco said.

Generally speaking there is no minimum. In some cases, merchants [who participate with the program] apply limitations to their offers, according to de Falco.

“The program is a good first step in terms of tax relief, but also sets the tone that the township supports local businesses. In the long run this program will not only encourage businesses to come to East Brunswick but will show our commitment to involving our local economy,” Cohen said.

For more information about FinCredit Inc. and its program, visit www.propertytaxcard.com/aboutus.

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@gmnews.com.