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Reduced Tax Collection Could Affect Haddonfield Budget

Borough commissioners discussed budget and other business.

A reduction of about $500,000 in taxes collected over the last year could affect the next municipal budget, borough commissioners learned Monday.

The sobering news was delivered during a Board of Commissioners work session at the Municipal Hall. No resolutions or ordinances are approved at work sessions, which occur twice monthly.

The collection rate dipped from 98.4 percent last year to 97.7 percent this year.

"That hurts," said Commissioner Jeff Kasko, who oversees the budget for the three-member Board of Commissioners.

Delinquent taxes caused the reduction, borough Administrator Sharon McCullough said. The increase in delinquent taxes doesn't necessarily mean property taxes will go up, McCullough said. The gap could be addressed with stepped up enforcement of collection, but it could also result in a budget shortfall which could lead to a reduction in services, she said.

The borough budget was $13.9 million last year. The typical tax bill in Haddonfield is about $12,000, with about 60 percent going to school costs. The borough tax is about 17 percent of the Haddonfield property tax bill and the remainder is for county taxes.

The potentially bad news was compounded by more news of an effort by residents of the Mews condominium complex to appeal tax assessments. Representatives of the residents have contacted the borough tax assessor in an effort to reduce taxes by nearly 10 percent, because of reduced property values, McCullough said.

The borough business improvement district, the Partnership for Haddonfield, is also experiencing some tough times. McCullough reported it is facing a potential $64,000 budget shortfall. A reduced return on savings and investments and fewer fund-raising activities, such as raffles, were blamed for the shortfall.

The PfH is largely funded through a tax on borough businesses. Its budget last year was $364,094.

In other business, the commissioners approved two events in which alcohol will be served. One is a beer-tasting fund-raiser at and the other is a lecture on beer, with samples served, at the Haddonfield 65 Club for retired men. Haddonfield prohibits the sale of alcohol, and public events in which it is served without a permit.

The Grace Church permit was unanimously approved, but the 65 club's permit hit some headwind. It's located in a borough-owned house in the 100 block of Rhodes Ave. Commissioner Tish Colombi, the mayor, said she was opposed to having liquor served in a borough-owned facility.

"I don't think they need to 'taste' beer in a borough-owned property," Colombi said. "We don't need to wait until three of them get into a car wreck going home."

Colombi voted against the permit. Commissioners Kasko and Ed Borden approved it.

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