How Will You Vote on the Bancroft Referendum?
Jan. 22 will be judgment day for a $12.5 million referendum on the Bancroft property.
Haddonfield residents will have an opportunity to go to the polls next Tuesday to decide a $12.5 million school board bond referendum on the public purchase of the 19.2-acre Bancroft property on Kings Highway East.
The school board and the borough have a joint purchase agreement for the $16-million acquisition which includes $3.5 million of guarantees for open-space preservation funds from the borough, county and state.
If the proposal does not pass the BOE will drop its proposal for acquisition, and the borough, acting as the redevelopment authority, will be forced to consider other plans proposed as a result of the designation of the property as “in need of redevelopment,” according to a school board statement. These alternate proposals must be addressed as a matter of law. The BOE has no intention of pursuing, or even a right to pursue, a second referendum, it said in a recent letter to the community.
The BOE estimates a typical resident with a property assessment value of $492,000 will pay $189.22 a year in additional taxes for the next 20 years for the Bancroft purchase.
Haddonfield’s average property tax bill of $12,088.88 is nearly twice the state average at $7,776, according to the state Department of Community Affairs. Haddonfield has the second highest average property tax bill in Camden County. It trails Tavistock, an exclusive enclave at the tip of Haddonfield, enclosed mostly in a private golf course. Haddonfield's property tax bills are 27 percent higher than Voorhees, $8,777.41, third in the county.
Opponents of the plan, like the group Haddonfield United, say: “If approved, the school board’s $16.8 million bond will drive up our local property taxes at a time when many Haddonfield residents are struggling to pay their existing tax bills. Supporters of the bond referendum may claim that the property tax increases will be ‘small,’ but our town’s middle-class residents and seniors on fixed incomes would beg to differ, especially in light of the fact that they are already paying twice the state average in property taxes.”
The Board of Education and other supporters of the plan say they want "to seize the opportunity of acquiring this historic and prominent 'gateway into Haddonfield' for use by the community at large, for educational and recreational purposes, to allow for possible future school expansion and development of a high school campus, and to secure an open-space legacy for our children."
What do you think? Please vote in our survey below. The survey will only allow you to vote once.