Ocean Township residents will see lower property tax bills through the new “Own Ocean” rewards program, a program which can mean a few hundred dollar savings on their tax bill.
The “Own Ocean” rebate program gives residents a rebate on their property taxes if they shop at a participating township-based business.
“Some rewards will be small but every time you get any money you will receive an instant message about a tax credit being applied,” Mayor Christopher Siciliano said.
Under the “Own Ocean” program, local merchants sign up and offer special discounts to Ocean Township residents through a credit-card-type magnetic strip. The card will include the property owner’s block and lot number on the tax map and that savings will be transferred to their annual property tax bill.
Participating businesses offer a discount to residents that will be applied to their property tax bill. The money taken off the bill through the discount is then deposited by the participating merchant in the taxpayer’s account. The program started at the end of August with 19 business members and that number has now grown to 25.
“I signed a dental practice up on Monday. I am hoping more businesses come on and we may have 35 to 40 by the end of the year,” he said.
“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 previously.
Illiano’s Italian Restaurant, 933 West Park Ave., is one of the businesses signed up for the rewards card. Restaurant owner Fausto Illiano said many of his steady customers are now using the rewards card and that he submitted $185 recently toward property tax relief for his customers.
“I have been here 31 years and I am happy to do something for the community. Instead of using coupons, customers use the rewards card and they can see the results at the end of the year. And they use it a lot,” he said.
Antonio’s Gourmet Salumeria, at 2201 Sunset Avenue in the Wanamassa section, is also pleased with participating in the “Own Ocean” program.
“We have been getting good feedback and are pleased with it so far. Customers come in and ask if we participate- and we are starting to see some new faces as word gets around town,” co-owner Anthony Rizzo said.
Siciliano said that business owners are liking the program and more are using it.
“The basic purpose is to attract more foot traffic while residents get a bite out of property taxes. It can also be crafted to a particular business’s needs,” he said.
Discounts offered, the minimum purchase required, even the days of the week they want to participate, are all controlled by the business owner. Seventy-five percent of the money received goes toward property tax relief with the other 25 percent going toward administrative costs.
“Business owners love it. It’s easy to use and I am glad to see people are interested in it. Some owners tell me that people come in and specifically ask if they take the reward card. The program is catching on, interest is peaking, and folks are enthused. We would be crazy not to do this,” Siciliano said.
He said he has been getting calls from other mayors for information about the program.
“You probably need a community with 15,000 or more people with commercials areas to make it work,” he said.