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 firstname.lastname@example.org.