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Haddonfield United Mobilizes Against Bancroft Purchase

The group explains why it's against the Bancroft bond referendum on Jan. 22.

This statement is from Haddonfield United:

Haddonfield United, a grassroots organization of local residents advocating responsible government for the borough of Haddonfield, continues to oppose the Haddonfield Board of Education’s proposed $16.8 million purchase of the Bancroft property. 

Haddonfield United is behind its “Vote No to Higher Property Taxes” campaign ahead of the Haddonfield Board of Education’s Jan. 22 bond referendum, in which local residents are being asked to vote to approve or reject the school board’s proposed purchase of the 19.2-acre Bancroft property.

Founder of Haddonfield United, Brian Kelly, said his organization’s primary reason for opposing the bond referendum is economic. “If approved, the school board’s $12.5 million bond will drive up our local property taxes at a time when many Haddonfield residents are struggling to pay their existing tax bills,” Kelly said. The borough is currently $41 million dollars in debt. “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 can't afford more we already pay twice the state average in property taxes, more than $12,000."

Kelly also notes that the acquisition would open up the floodgates to decades of additional spending.

“Local officials would have Haddonfield residents believe this purchase is principally about preserving open space,” Kelly said. “However, the school board has made clear that it wants to develop portions of the property as an educational campus, including a $1.2 million dollar turf field, putting Haddonfield taxpayers on the hook for potentially tens of millions of dollars more in taxes above and beyond the initial $12.5 million bond. Haddonfield simply can’t afford such expenditures when our town has struggled for years to fix even potholes.”

Haddonfield United also points out that the $12.2 million price for purchase of the property is excessive.

“The property was assessed at the height of the real estate market in 2005 for just $8 million,” said Haddonfield United representative Cliff Brunker. “Similarly, the Haddonfield school board’s most recent appraisal values the property at just $6.5 million based on current permitted uses.” 

Kelly said if the bond passes, it will force residents out of Haddonfield.

“At least one commissioner has conceded that the purchase will drive out some less affluent residents who will no longer be able to afford the resulting property tax increases,” Kelly said. “I find the willingness of some local officials to accept this sort of collateral damage perplexing in light of their consideration of the property for possible affordable housing. Apparently less affluent residents are only welcomed in Haddonfield if they generate dollars for politically connected developers and construction firms who will build any affordable housing.”

Haddonfield United will announce additional details about its "Vote No to Higher Property Taxes" Campaign in weeks ahead. In the meantime, the organization is urging local residents to stay informed by signing up for Haddonfield United's newsletter at (haddonfieldunited.wordpress.com) or (facebook.com/haddonfieldunited). Residents may also direct inquires about Haddonfield United to haddonfieldunited@hotmail.com.

J January 15, 2013 at 03:26 PM
The reason I'm voting NO is because since I've moved into this town I’ve voted YES for the school board’s needs, over and over again. This seemingly “small amount of money” and incurred a tax bill that has increased 45% over the past 8 years. I don’t know about you, but my salary has not kept up with Haddonfield inflation. It never seems like enough for this town. The other problem is that every organization and issues raises a need for more and more money. And every time the need for money is ALWAYS THREATENING my child’s EDUCATION. Enough is enough. Stop threatening me. The last issue, for now, is that the cost is only $200 now, present day, to buy the property. However, when it comes time to install the turf fields and the added maintenance, our tax bill will soar another $150. Then will come the vote for a school extension, there goes another $300. Folks, by that time, your tax bill be another $650 plus inflation, I predict this $200 is going to really cost you over $3,000 in the next 10-15 years. And remember this is only for the Bancroft property, there will be other needs for increasing taxes like existing healthcare, pensions, etc. Let a builder purchase the property, at a lower purchase price, and build the 10 low income housing units that are necessary.
Joe Taxpayer January 15, 2013 at 03:54 PM
Brian, maybe it would be better for the opposition to then say something like ."..with increasing costs for healthcare, food, gas and taxes for salaries, pensions and benefits for government employees ALONG with the cost to acquire Bancroft, it will will force residents out of Haddonfield." At least it doesn't place all the blame on Bancroft. Jeff H - let's outsource all services but police to firms that specialize in them. No pensions to worry about then. Tax relief and improved services.
Maryann Campling January 15, 2013 at 03:56 PM
J....I concur with your insightful, well-written comments, and agree that at the mention of "children" or "education," we are expected to blindly follow the herd, without using fact, logic and common sense to evaluate the benefit of additional financial commitment. The fact that the BOE and Boro have been vague, at best, about what the real development plans (and costs) will be should be of concern to everyone. I just don't understand the "we must buy it now and we'll worry about development plans later" argument. It makes no sense to me. I'd never give the bank a down payment, sign the agreement of sale and the mortgage commitment forms....without knowing what the house actually costs!.
Maryann Campling January 15, 2013 at 04:04 PM
No thinking person would, yet that is basically what we are being asked to do regarding Bancroft. Haddonfield can and should be a town that provides the best quality of living for everyone....education is critically important to be sure, but so is maintaining an affordable community for all members of the socio-economic stratum. By the way, there is a great letter in today's Courier Post editorial page. Among other things, the writer says "Voting "no" for Bancroft means voting "yes" for education." Check it out.
Bill Reynolds January 15, 2013 at 04:18 PM
Interesting to see Lenin cited in an earlier comment. I hope we are not on track for the traditional "pinko commie" comments next. -- But seriously, this really is a one-time opportunity. All the speculation about alternative values of the property and future options for renegotiation with Bancroft are all just that -- speculation. What we know is that the site is now for sale. We know it is going to cost us an average of about $200 more a year in taxes to pay for it. To me, the question is pretty simple: Is it worth $200 a year to you to have the insurance that the land will be available over the long-term for future community use, or isn't it? I favor the option for the long-term, and I am planning to vote YES. The folks who don't are planning to vote NO. The rest is politics. And when it comes to politics, I remember what Will Rogers used to say: "Remember folks, it's all applesauce."
PJ January 15, 2013 at 04:19 PM
Don't you find it funny that according to many people your opinion and your tax dollars are worth(less) if you "moved in to town." Most of the people voting "yes" begin with their position statements by saying how they are lifers or multiple generation residents. If you have lived in Haddonfield one day or since it was founded, your vote counts just the same and your tax dollars are worth the same.
Joanne January 15, 2013 at 05:56 PM
Bill, to answer your question “NO”. Senator Smith from N.J. would like to increase everyone's water tax "only" $32/year for open space. The Bancroft increase is "only" $189/year (we know it’s going to be significantly more) on top of the yearly property tax increase. Social security tax increased "only” 2%, income tax is increasing "only" 3% - 5%, long term capital gains tax is increasing "only" 5% - 10%, the estate tax is increasing "only" 20% w/ 4 million decreases in exemption. This names a few of the "only" increases currently taking effect. These increases don’t including fuel, utilities, food & insurance increases. Salaries aren’t increasing at the rate of all of these “only” increases. Haddonfield is overpaying for property that won’t better the quality of education. Buildings & turf fields don’t make a quality education; dedicated teachers who have a passion for educating, parents who know the value of education & instill this value in their children, and students who have a strong support system that engrains them w/the importance of education & through the enthusiasm of the educators & parents develop a lifelong love of learning. That is the formula for a good education, not turf fields. It’s disgraceful how this town will displace its citizens for an overpriced piece of property. Citizens who have contributed to this town & will now be forced to move because they can no longer afford to stay. It is a sad, sad commentary.
Jack S January 15, 2013 at 06:30 PM
For anyone who wants to buy my house, it's a chance of a lifetime. It's the best opportunity to get in on a great deal. It's too good to pass up. You'll never find a better place on the market again. It's for the future of my kids. It will help preserve and conserve my wallet. Come on folks, make me an offer.
Jack S January 15, 2013 at 06:35 PM
Mayor Reyonds, I respect your position and advocacy. And I agree with you -- no one should speculate on valuations. We should go with the facts -- i.e., the $6.5 million valuation in the Renwick appraisal. After all, the $6.5 million appraisal reflects the permitted uses of the property today, and any attempt to use the alternate $15.1 million valuation, which speculates about potential uses that could happen in theory only approved by a super majority of our Zoning Board, is misplaced.
Mike McCready January 15, 2013 at 09:10 PM
Can we please stop saying that "Bancroft is a willing seller" or as Bill just said "What we know is that the site is now for sale". My house is worth $400,000 and is currently not for sale. If you offered me $800,000 for it, my house is now for sale and is SOLD.
Jeremiah Wright January 15, 2013 at 09:32 PM
Notice most of the green signs in town are on the lawns with houses that are - shall we say - bigger than necessary. Sort of like the price tag on this boondoggle. BTW - Great comment Jack S.
Maryann Campling January 15, 2013 at 11:21 PM
"Common sense ain't common." Will Rogers Buying an overpriced parcel of land, with no definite development plans and projected costs... just because it is available just makes no sense to me....no matter how I analyze it. The purchase price is just the down payment on this debacle....everything else is an unknown. Speaking of unknowns, I find it interesting that some folks affiliated with GSEG (including two who don't even live in Haddonfield any more) have been extremely vocal and visible about this purchase....call me cynical, but I can't help but wonder if approval of this bond and future development of an educational campus by the BOE would eventually benefit them....just a thought.
Jeremiah Wright January 16, 2013 at 12:35 AM
Yes, since someone brought up Will Rogers: "The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets." (Or in this case, the BOE)
Maryann Campling January 16, 2013 at 12:40 AM
Brilliant!!!! Thanks for the smile.
Rocco Rye January 16, 2013 at 01:16 AM
As a senior citizen who has lived in town for many years, I would enjoy living in this town and my home for the coming years. However, now that I am on a limited income and facing increasing costs from rising energy, food, insurance etc., I don't need to be faced with additional costs that will arrive from the Bancroft purchase. I do notice many green signs around town ... on the lawns on the castles on Kings Highway, the homes along Chews Landing Rd., and the residences on Upland Way to name a few ... Obviously, through hard work and good fortune, the people living in these areas will have no problem handling the burdens that the Bancroft purchase will create ... and I do compliment them ... However, I do believe that a majority of towns people are faced with mounting bills and the purchase will place a greater hardship on them ... in a perfect world, the purchase would be a good idea ... unfortunately, we are not living in a perfect world ...
Dawn January 16, 2013 at 03:24 AM
Thank you Rocco for your words of wisdom. The purchase of Bancroft will chase out the elderly and also the middle class families of our town. All taxes will increase, there is a limited few that can afford that increase. Hundreds of homes will go on the market when/if this votes goes through, then hundreds will go on sale as taxes increase. Noone out of town will buy into this town, unless they are wealthy. This is a no win situation. No school in this town is over abundanced. We are not "doing this for the children". The green signs either 1) do not care about the $500 plus tax increase per year 2) Are not informed enough to know the actual issues or #3) ARE SNOBS WHO ARE SCARED TO DEATH OF THE FEW LOW INCOME HOUSES WE ARE BEING THREATENED OF OCCURING. And to those of you who believe that, look at the economy, no one else wants to buy the Bancroft property at this time. There are no other bids. You are being lied too... How can the BoE outsource education when the schools are not and never will be at their max? We have out of town kids paying for our schools now, they are not maxed. PLEASE do not believe what you hear. Do your research..
Eric Johnson January 16, 2013 at 04:24 AM
Sadly Rocco. Your Haddonfield united team as failed you again. Do you know what the NJ senior tax freeze program is? I have told HU about it a few times. It allows seniors, like yourself-and my parents, to freeze your property tax once you hit 65. It is best to get in it right away. This Bond is most likely free to you and other seniors. Having Bancroft there costs you more in soft costs BTW, my parents were both teachers. I grew up in foundry town in WI. Many of us worked through our college, earned every penny and are in Haddonfield to provide a better life for our kids.
Jack S January 16, 2013 at 04:45 AM
Eric, the tax freeze qualification ceiling was $80k two years ago. Then it was lowered to $70k last year. And there's talk in Trenton that it will be lowered further, post-Sandy. As the tax freeze qualification ceiling falls, more Haddonfield seniors are exposed to higher property taxes. Needless to say, $70k pre-tax is not a lot to live in in NJ, but if you're a senior making more than that then you're NOT protected from property tax increases.
Eric Johnson January 16, 2013 at 05:05 AM
It's up to each individual to see if they qualify. Your assuming every Senior in NJ is making over $70,000 a year. I assume they aren't and let them decide if they qualify and have a need for the program. If I didn't know about tax rebate program... i would hope someone shares it with me.
Jack S January 16, 2013 at 05:17 AM
Where do I assume every senior in NJ makes more that $70K??? The fact is that a senior making $70k before taxes living in Haddonfield would not qualify for a tax freeze. That level of income is hardly a king's ransom, especially if you are supporting a spouse, and especially for seniors facing limited COLAs in recent years. You provide zero evidence that an appreciable number of Haddonfield seniors in Haddonfield would qualify based on income. Yet you admonish others for allegedly not knowing about the freeze.
Brian Kelly January 16, 2013 at 05:25 AM
Eric, Just about everyone in the town of Haddonfield works hard, earns every penny and provides a better life for their children. They also have something called common sense. They know school bonds aren't free to anyone, which is why they must be vital to the education of their children. An overpriced referendum benefiting Bancroft, who is funding One Haddonfield rings the alarm bells for people all over town. It seems there are some people who keep on underestimating that. If you want to portray Haddonfield United as invasive force intent on misleading people it's up to you. Haddonfield United is just a name. We all work hard for each other, care about the lives of our fellow residents and the direction of the town we love. I'm proud to know so many people who have become my friends.
Joe Taxpayer January 16, 2013 at 02:57 PM
Here are the 2012 Presidential Election Results showing Obama winning Haddonfield. It also shows Haddonfield voters overwheliming votes YES to authorize the state to borrow money to pay for college capital investments which presumably don't benefit Haddonfield residents especially those who are struggling. We even elected the same old tax and spend Freeholders who take 25% of our tax dollars and for what?? http://www.haddonfieldnj.org/pdf/General-Election-Results-11-06-2012-Preliminary.pdf http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/11/nj_voters_say_yes_to_both_high.html Why do we think Obama won given he has raised our taxes, increased our healthcare costs, gas & food prices are higher under him, we have more debt we cannot afford - now $16.4 Trillion and just this month he raised taxes on everyone. How can people talk about the costs forcing people out when they just elected someone who is bankrupting us all and they voted to borrow $750 million dollars in NJ which is also broke. Do you not think higher taxes will pay for this??? Where is that money coming from? I wish there was this much passion to stop these things. Vote no but always vote NO!!!
Maryann Campling January 16, 2013 at 10:38 PM
Mr. Reynolds: I just read that you referred to me as a "pinko-commie"! You obviously don't know me, but ask anyone who does (including several individuals in your group) and they will attest that I am a proud un-hyphenated American...if you cut me, I bleed Red, White and Blue. Criticize my opinion on Bancroft...but don't dare question my patriotism.
Eric Johnson January 16, 2013 at 11:56 PM
The response to the comment was to simply inform Senior Citizen's 65 and over that options such as a NJ Tax rebate program exist for him, and others, to not have this bond payment hit his wallet. Of course, there are always limitations, I did not mislead anyone. It is in place so that any fed, state or city bond or tax increase will not force every senior in need out of their homes. And your "group" jumps on me for the post? I don'r portray you as invasive... you ARE invasive. Where on ANY of your sites do you explain this option for seniors? These past couple weeks, it seems the dissolving for this referendum is more important to YOU that informing residents of options that will help them in the short or long term. What else have you held back from your sites?
Brian Kelly January 17, 2013 at 04:19 AM
Eric, It's nice that you call your fellow residents invasive because they happen to disagree with your point of view. We all state the facts as we see them. Other people might not agree with you but so what? Welcome to the world. I respect your right to your opinion and that's what matters. If you don't like what you see on the Haddonfield United page then don't read it. I don't care for One Haddonfield's facts but they have every right to make their case as they see fit.
Brian Kelly January 17, 2013 at 04:31 AM
By the way, you posted on the Haddonfield United site often and never once talked about your tax rebate program. You could have debated your issue respectfully but you chose to attack people's motivations instead. I've talked often with Mr. Weinstein, the Mayor and Superintendent Perry and we respect each others point of view. It shouldn't be so hard for you to do the same thing.
Maryann Campling January 17, 2013 at 12:04 PM
Joe T....great post from yesterday morning...I ask myself the same questions and can only conclude that most folks vote based on emotion and ideology...not fact and logic. The President is a rock star, and that's enough for some, I guess. Plus, remember, this is New Jersey (and Camden County, no less) so the Democrats have held Court for ages and I don't see that ending anytime soon....too many people on the dole, as my Dad used to say. I feel that we are screwed by the Fed and State and that the only control we might have over out of control government spending is on a local level...(.not just taxes, but we can work on that after January 22.) Let's hope that people start THINKING, if they don't and soon, we're in for a big mess!
Joe Taxpayer January 17, 2013 at 01:34 PM
Thank you Maryann. There are too many low information voters out there with their hands out. While we have the luxury as a community to vote on capital spending and important issues, the Federal Gov borrows $3-4 billion a day just to operate. No one borrows money to run operations. The worst part is with $16.5 T of debt and growing, it will never ever be paid back. It will continue to grow causing even higher borrowing costs. In fact, in Obama's own budget projections, interest costs grow from $300B to $915B in the next few years. Imagine spending an additional $615 BILLION just to pay interest on debts for expenses you couldn't afford. Hurricane Sandy at $60B will cost $1.2B a year forever in interest costs since it will never be paid back. A country that needs to increase its borrowing limit ie credit limit to pay interest on money it already borrowed is already in default only the lender in this case is the same as the borrower and lets it happen. Try that with a bank or Visa. After Bancroft, let's take our passions to the people and fix government once and for all so our children and grandchildren even have a future.
Mike McCready January 17, 2013 at 01:46 PM
Why are we stopping with Bancroft? Shouldn't we purchase all the houses on Sylvan Lake while we're at it? I think we may need that land someday for future development for educational needs.
John Moscatelli January 17, 2013 at 03:17 PM
I wish folks would stop using the $189/yr tax increase number, it's a 2.7% increase in your school taxes. The BoE likes the $189 number as it downplays the real cost. Remember, this is above and beyond to likely 2% increase we'll see in the next budget. Further, once this increase is worked into the budget, it's part of the base so we will pay an additional 2% per year on top of that. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, for Bancroft to profit from Haddonfield's taxpayers. As for Mike's comment about Sylvan Lake, we could pay those folks double their market value (I'm sure they would sell in a heartbeat) gain the land for an expansion, and spend a lot less than $12.5M. Sounds like a much better deal.

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