Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Property Tax Card Program seems like a true win/win situation.

There are always many issues that arise that challenge municipal officials to find answers.  But there are two consistent challenges that always persist: (1) finding ways to reduce property taxes for our residents; and (2) finding ways to support our local businesses to keep the town commercially vibrant.  The governing body is exploring a program that seems to address both of these challenges in a meaningful way.  Ladies and Gentlemen....I introduce you to the "Property Tax Card" Program (hereafter, "PTRP").

PTRP is a Township economic development program which provides tax credits as an incentive for residents to shop in town.  It matches participating residents with participating merchants.  Here is how it goes:

The Township distributes a property tax card (like a reward card) to its residents.  When shopping at a local store that participates in the program, the shopper presents the property tax card to the merchant along with the normal payment (cash or card) for the goods or services being purchased, the merchant swipes the property tax card in a dedicated processing machine, and that will result in a credit to the shopper's property tax card account which is maintained by the program manager.  At the end of the year, the resident's credits are than calculated, and the credit (less the 25% administration fee) is then applied to the resident's property tax bill.  The credit is paid by the merchant (collected monthly) and ultimately applied to the resident's property taxes.

Example:  SpongeBob goes to Krabby Doors to purchase a garage door.  Sponge sees the door of his dreams for $1000 and presents his credit card and his property tax card to Patrick (Krabby Doors Manager) to buy the door.  Krabby Doors (owned by the brother of Eugene H. Krabs) participates in the program and offers cardholders a 10% property tax credit for purchases.  Patrick runs the property tax card through the special machine provided from the program, and the credit card in the credit card machine.  Transaction complete.  SpongeBob just got a brand new door, but he also just banked a $75 credit ($100 - $25 admin fee) towards his property taxes, and Krabby Doors got a sale it may not have had.  SpongeBob dances out of the store proud of how smart he is.  Mrs. Puff, watching the transaction take place before her eyes, excitedly drives immediately to the Municipal Building to sign up for the program.  The end.

A representative from PTRP is scheduled to make a short presentation and answer questions at the next council meeting on December 17, 2019 (my 30th anniversary to my lovely wife) at 6:30 pm.  All are welcome to attend....merchants and residents!

IMPORTANT:  This is NOT a done deal.  The Township has not made any commitment to this program.  We are doing our due diligence and engaging the community in this process.  Also, if anything that I have written is inconsistent with the program as described by its representative, the representative is right!

FAQs:

1.  What is the cost to the resident?  $0.00
2.  What is the cost to the Township?  A fee for the cost of making the credit cards, and the time and effort of an employee to assist in making the program successful.
3.  What is the cost to the merchant?  There is a $10 monthly participating fee, and a one-time cost of between $160 (dial up) and $230 for (IP) for the machine used to process the transaction.  The merchant determines the percentage of credit it will offer to participants at the time of registration into the program.  There are no set amounts.
4.  What does the company Property Tax Card get paid? 25% of the total credit earned.  For this fee, it manages the program.
5.  How can the resident monitor the credits earned?  On the program's website, the resident will have his/her own account to log into to see the amounts awarded.
6.  How can I learn more about this program?  Go to https://propertytaxcard.com/aboutus and attend the council meeting.



Thursday, December 5, 2019

A Story Of A Scam That Should Be Shared......

Hey Everyone! I just wanted to alert you all to a scam that is happening that targets older people. It’s my hope by sharing this (long) story that you retell it to anyone you know that may fit the demographic. I have personal knowledge of this happening two times in the past week. It goes like this: Let’s call the victim “Bart” (a widower in his 80s…fit and self-reliant) to make it easier to tell. Bart receives a phone call in the morning from someone (the scammer) who says he is his adult son. The scammer says “Dad, I am in the hospital and have a broken nose and broken arm from a car accident. I have been arrested for DWI and I injured another driver. This is my only phone call, but here is the number for my attorney who will call you and give you instructions on how to make bail. Dad, please don’t tell anyone about this….no one can find out about it.”
Bart is in a panic, he calls the number his “son” gave him. A man picks up and identifies himself as an attorney.  Bart asks if he is representing his son, and the man says yes. The man says that we have to act fast or we won’t be able to get him out of jail on bail until next week. Bart is told that bail has been set at $50,000 and he needs $5000 in cash immediately. The attorney instructs Bart to go to the bank and get it and then call him back. Bart, with his paternal instincts in overdrive, rushes to the bank and withdraws $5000 in cash. He calls the “attorney” back and tells him he has the money. The attorney says that the case is being handled all the way up in Passaic County, so the fastest way to get the money to him is to go to a local PNC bank and deposit in the account of ….let’s say, John Doe…in account # 123456.
Bart rushes to PNC bank where the Teller promptly refuses him because by law you cannot deposit money into another party’s account (and that they don’t have that account on record). Bart calls the “attorney” and tells him the bad news. The attorney tells him to try Wells Fargo (knowing full well he will be refused again but this is all a part of the scam). Bart drives to the bank and receives the same response. Bart is now in a panic, so the “attorney” tells him that the only thing he can think of is for Bart to go to Hamilton and buy $5000 worth of “bitcoin” and that he will give him instructions once he gets that done.
Well Bart has no idea what bitcoin is and breaks down and calls his grandson and asks for help. Bart tells his grandson to please tell no one “but I am trying to help your father, and I need to buy bitcoin.” Luckily, the grandson knows this scam well because it happened to a grandfather of his friend. He tells Bart that it’s a scam and to go home and he will meet him there. Bart, if you talk with him and see him, is a sharp man for his age. But he is human, and his emotions overcame his common sense…and this is what makes these scammers awful human beings. For 3 hours Bart was driving around thinking this terrible thing happened to his son, and is doing his best to try and help him while telling no one because his son asked him not to.
The police were called, and a report was taken. The officer told Bart that these scammers are often never caught because they are in another country. This exact scam happened the very next day to one of Bart’s friends who took the same action but was luckily stopped by his grandson (coincidentally) when he reached out for help. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do not think this couldn’t happen to your elderly sibling, parent, grandparent or neighbor.  Bart still swears the voice sounded exactly like his son’s. If this scam was completed, Bart would have been devastated. Please tell this story to whomever you think may need to hear it. Let’s all work to keep our residents safe.

My Deepest Apologies to Rich and Frankie and their families.

On the front page of the Trentonian newspaper today there was an extremely odd and poorly written article that was intended solely to dispar...