Buy In Brick For Tax Savings

Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn

BRICK – The more you spend in local participating businesses, the more you can deduct from your property tax bill, and even if you don’t own a house here or if you live out of town, you would still be eligible for a rebate in the form of a check.

That is the premise of Buy in Brick, a property tax rewards program started in 2014 and designed to stimulate business and lower property taxes for those who frequent township merchants and have signed up for an award card.

According to township employee Darren Sirota, who oversees the program, some 5,066 families participate in the Buy in Brick program, and since its inception, sales using the card have totaled about $3.2 million, with resident tax savings of about $235,000.

Sirota spends much of his day going door-to-door and canvassing businesses throughout Brick to tell them about the program. An average of two to three businesses sign on each week, he said.

He also calls and emails an estimated 800 township businesses, and mails out Buy in Brick cards to residents who email or call to request one.

There are currently 54 township businesses enrolled in the program, who offer discounts as a percentage amount up to what they feel is acceptable, said Councilwoman Heather deJong, who chairs the township’s Economic Development Committee.

Councilwoman Heather deJong, and township employee Darren Sirota, who oversees the Buy in Brick Program, are promoting the Buy in Brick program. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

When the program began in October 2014, the township entered into a contract with FinCredit, Inc. of Marlboro to administer the Buy in Brick Program, who get 25 percent of the credited amount.

As an example, if a township restaurant owner wanted to be part of the program, they might offer a 10% discount to their customer.

If a patron spends $100 on a meal, they would still pay $100, but the restaurant owner would take $90, and $10 would go towards the program.

On the next third quarter property tax bill, the resident would get a credit for $7.50 off their property taxes while FinCredit would get $2.50.

FinCredit charged $10,000 for the township to join the program but that fee was paid solely by River Rock Restaurant and Marina Bar in exchange for an advertisement on the card, deJong explained, so no tax dollars were used to join the program or for the cost of 20,000 Buy in Brick cards, she said.

Some merchants have a terminal where the Buy in Brick cards could be swiped, while other business owners go online once a month to enter the credited amount, deJong explained.

“We’re working towards a point of sale, where there is only one transaction and the merchant just pushes a button on the cash register,” she said on November 28 from a conference room in Town Hall.

The cost of advertising for the program comes out of the Tourism Development Commission from licensing fees, food vendor and taxi licensing fees, and not tax dollars, deJong said.

“We are proud of the program. It’s definitely growing,” she said. “A lot of residents want some of the larger chains, like ShopRite or Lowes to participate, but because of their corporate structure it is harder for them to get approval.”

Residents can obtain a card at Town Hall or by visiting the township website at twp.brick.nj.us then click on “Community” tab at the top, then click on Buy in Brick, then click on “email,” mid page, which pulls up a link to Sirota’s email (dsirota@twp.brick.nj.us), or call 732 451-5007.

A business can register online at propertytaxcard.com/BuyInBrick/addbusiness.

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Judy moved to Ocean County from New York City in 1988, and began her second career as a feature and news reporter in the mid-1990's. She has worked for Micromedia Publications since 2008, primarily reporting for The Toms River Times and The Brick Times. Judy has also worked for The Leader Review in Point Pleasant Beach, The Brick Communicator and The Asbury Park Press. Reach Judy by e-mail at Judysmestadnunn@gmail.com.