TAX DISCOUNT IDEA BROACHED, PUT ON HOLD

marcheseCouncilman Bob Marchese explains his idea to generate revenue through investing taxes that are paid early, while councilman Ben Lucarelli looks on. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It didn’t take long for rookie Fair Haven Councilman Bob Marchese to start chipping away at ideas he campaigned on.

He formally floated one earlier this week: give a discount on property taxes for those who pay their bills early. The borough would then invest the money paid at a higher rate than the discount given.

The idea appeared to be dead on arrival. Because of economic conditions, the council has decided to hold off on Marchese’s idea. It could be revived at some point in the future, though, officials suggested.

“It’s not the right time to do this, unfortunately,” Mayor Mike Halfacre said. “But we’re always looking for ideas and think outside the box, as they say, to save some money and in this case, make some money.”

One problem with getting an idea like this to work, Marchese himself pointed out, is that the borough has such a small impact on a property owner’s overall property tax bill — about 21 percent, he said. That inhibits both the size of the discount and the amount the borough can invest.

If the county and local school board would sign on to provide this incentive and in turn invest the money paid to them, then the benefit would be greater to both taxpayers and taxing authorities, he said.  Marchese said he’s talked to county freeholders and has received favorable responses about it.

Fair Haven, which Marchese said has a high rate of people paying their taxes on time, would be an ideal location to start a program like this, he said. If it ever does get going in Fair Haven and actually proves beneficial, he believes it could spread through the state.

“Ideally, if it were to take off here, if we could get the county on board and get the other components on board for your tax bill, it would be real advantageous,” Marchese said. “It deserves some thought. I’m just not sure if the timing is right at this time.”