Ocean Township residents may get a little property tax relief by shopping at local businesses under an innovative plan being put together by township officials.
Called “Own Ocean,” the program calls for participating residents to get a rebate on their property taxes if they shop at a township-based business.
“It is a property tax rewards program that tries to put money back in the taxpayer’s pocket,” Mayor Christopher Siciliano said.
Siciliano said the program is still being organized and is expected to be launched sometime later this year.
“It may take about nine months but it will be put together,” he said.
Under the program, local merchants will sign up and offer special discounts to Ocean Township residents through a credit-card-type magnetic strip.
“The card will include your block and lot number on the tax map and that savings will be transferred to your annual property tax bill,” Siciliano said.
He said participating businesses usually offer between a 10 to 15 percent discount to residents that will be applied to their property tax bill.
Twenty-five percent of the revenues from the program go to administer it and 75 percent goes to the resident’s property tax relief.
“Every time you use it, it is linked to your tax bill and it is checked quarterly,” Siciliano said.
He said Marlboro has a similar program underway and that participating businesses, in total, saw a $600,000 increase in sales the first year and $1 million in increased sales in the second year.
“It gives people a chance to save money by shopping in Ocean Township. These are not coupons or value packs and it is cheaper for merchants to participate. It should bring them more traffic,” he said.
Non-residents can also participate and receive a rebate check instead of property tax relief.
“Conservatively, a casual user participating in the program can save from $100 to $200 a year. But, if you use it a lot, it can result in $500 to $1,000 a year off in your property taxes,” Siciliano said.
A special terminal to swipe the card is needed, to be provided by the merchant, at an estimated cost of $200.
“The township will offer an incentive program for the first 20 businesses signing up but, in the long run, the terminal should pay for itself. And it encourages people to shop in Ocean Township,” he said.
Large decals will be placed prominently in the participating business and future workshops will be held to help promote to program.