HILLSBOROUGH: Writer questions why Shop Hillsborough program isso complicated

Letter to the editor

To the editor:
Recently I received my Shop Hillsborough card along with other Hillsborough taxpayers. Although I am glad that Hillsborough is finally instituting a "shop local" program, this program seems more intent on reducing individual tax burdens than actually helping businesses be successful in Hillsborough.
Since the program was first explained by the township in various articles, including ones in this newspaper, it has always seemed to me to be overly complicated.
Who actually makes up for the loss of tax revenue? Isn’t it complicated if you’re a Hillsborough renter or Hillsborough business employee to have to get a voucher from the township? Won’t the vendors have to inflate their prices for everyone in order to cover the discount for Hillsborough homeowners? What is the cost for administration, by the township and by the program administrator? Wouldn’t it just be easier for the township to do a better job marketing local businesses to insure their success? What about just having a local discount card for all Hillsborough businesses, like the Raider card, which has been very successful?
I think a lot of my suspicions were correct. In a Patch article last week Mayor Tomson was clear that the "the plan is funded by participating businesses."
An article that came out in the Star Ledger a few weeks ago entitled "Tax program could be in trouble without action from Trenton" said that tax statements are by law restricted in what types of charges/credits can be printed on property tax bills, and legislation may be needed in order for townships to properly execute on this program.
The same article said the administrator, FinCredit/Carmine DeFalco, which Hillsborough is using for their program, takes 25 percent of the tax credit, which is an huge percentage for a simple service fee.
There has also been discussion in the media that an individual’s email ID, which is required to register for the program, is shared with all the vendors as a way to convince vendors they will increase their marketing reach in the program. Personally I would feel a lot better if there was some disclaimer in the materials that my email would not be shared with vendors, but I didn’t see that in any of the materials.
I do not understand why this has to be so complicated or why so much of the money has to come from businesses or go to a third-party administrator. If our businesses were simply better promoted, it seems to me they would be successful. People will go where they get the best service or products. They should be naturally inclined to shop locally because it’s convenient. I really hope that the discount we receive as taxpayers is not undone by higher prices, fees, inability to credit tax statements, undue burden on business, loss of email privacy, etc. Buyer (and seller) beware!
John Beggiato and Thuy Anh Le have come out strongly in support of local businesses in this campaign in a way that does not involve an additional layer of cost and administration. I am voting for them because I believe they will be business-minded and resourceful and can right this ship. Vote Beggiato and Le on Nov. 4.
Howard and Gitta Greenberg 
Hillsborough 