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Lack of Surplus Reduces PfH Budget

Haddonfield's business improvement district takes in less money, so it must cut expenses.

The Partnership for Haddonfield, the borough's tax-funded business improvement district, has been forced to reduce expenses because of a shrinking surplus that has cut its budget by $55,000 this year.

The PfH budget will be reduced from $355,046 to $300,000 this year. The surplus, the amount carried over from year to year, dropped to $18,000 this year, down from $67,346 last year.

PfH officials said the surplus has been shrinking for several years because expenses continue to rise and they have not increased the tax rate used to fund the district. The two-tier tax rate is paid by local business owners, based on the value of their business.

Officials also said the PfH has not made as much money from promotional events over the last year as it has in the past. The PfH board, composed of local business owners and community professionals, decided to cut spending in several areas, including slashing the pay and reducing the responsibilities of the former recruitment coordinator. It was a part-time job formerly held by Lisa Hurd, who to take a similar, full-time job in Pennsylvania. The new position will be called a retail recruiter and the salary will be dropped to $32,500, from $44,257. The weekly hours worked will be dropped to 21 from 28.

"The answer is $250,000 doesn't get you as much in 2012 as it did in 2008," said Jeff Kasko, one of three and a member of the PfH board. "We're dealing with the same $250,00 tax income, but our expenses have crept up. That's why you see these cuts this year. One possible answer is 'Why don't you raise the tax?' But we feel, this year, in this economy, it's not a time to be raising taxes on businesses."

The PfH budget comes from a $250,000 annual tax levy on businesses, $32,000 in revenue from the annual summer crafts fair and surplus funds. In addition to the $12,000 cut in the retail-recruiter salary, the PfH will also trim recruitment and retention grants for new and existing businesses from $40,700 to $22,000, and cut networking and seminar funds from $7,000 to $1,000. Additional cuts will shrink the budget by a total of $55,000.

In other news, PfH officials said they have narrowed their search for Hurd's replacement to five candidates, two of whom are borough residents. A hire is expected within the next month, officials said.

Jeff H March 16, 2012 at 05:58 PM
I never understood why municipal government is involved here. It's the landlords and the tenants, right? It is THEY who should be managing this, deciding how much to spend on which events, who to hire to bring great businesses into the area. The market will decide if they are doing it right, with successful small business owners and landlords who make a reasonable return on their investment. Does anyone in the borough really have any expertise in managing a retail downtown, or selecting such a person? How about we concentrate on the things that government is reponsible for, like public safety, law enforcement, roads, etc.

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