Residents Could Earn Property Tax Credits for Shopping in Caldwell
Imagine every time you bought a pizza, went through the car wash or purchased a gift in Caldwell you knocked dollars off your property tax bill? Borough merchants, mayor considering Shop Caldwell program.
Residents of Caldwell could see lower property tax bills just for patronizing businesses in their town.
The borough’s mayor and merchants are exploring a program called Shop Caldwell as a way to entice residents to support local businesses and help boost the local economy.
“The Shop Caldwell program will encourage our residents to shop in Caldwell, and will either give them a property tax credit or a check at the end of a year of shopping and dining,” Mayor Ann Dassing explained.
The program, offered by FinCredit, was introduced in 2012 in Marlboro, where about 40 businesses have signed up.
Dassing said Marlboro’s participating merchants have seen an “uptick in sales and foot traffic” as a result.
Each business can customize their Shop Local offer. A pizzeria, for example, might give 20 percent off a bill, while a boutique may offer 10 percent off the total purchase.
At the register, residents would present their Shop Caldwell card to be swiped, recording the amount spent. All the purchases made at participating businesses would be totaled and deducted from tax bills on a yearly basis. Residents who are not property owners would receive a check.
Participating businesses would be required to purchase the processing terminal and would be charged $10 a month for the service as well as 15 cents per swipe, according to PropertyTaxCard.com. The amount saved by customers would be passed along to the borough.
“I feel this will really set us apart from the area malls and other towns and will give our merchants and eateries a boost to their bottom lines,” Dassing said.
Frank Delli Santi, proprietor of Caldwell Flowerland and member of the Caldwell Merchants Association, said he supports the program.
“We want everyone to shop in Caldwell and get a tremendous discount,” he said.
Delli Santi said while the program would initially be offered to Caldwell residents, it could ultimately be expanded to surrounding towns.
Another Caldwell business owner, Dale Lazarovitch of My Daughter's Closet, who has been vocal about wanting to boost business in town, said she would be interested in giving Shop Local a go.
"You know I am the first in line to be new, fresh and innovative. I would say that I am the last one to be skeptical," Lazarovitch said. "I hope that once this plan is laid out that the residents and merchants will be open to new ideas!"
The girls' consignment shop owner came before the council earlier this month to express her concerns about the lack of patronage to businesses in the downtown. She said she was considering moving her shop instead of renewing her lease on Brookside Avenue.
"This town is dead. There is no vibe. There is no life," she told the council. "I would love to see this town alive."
Local businesses will have an opportunity to learn more about the Shop Caldwell program on Feb. 28, at 6 p.m., at the Caldwell Community Center.