BERGEN COUNTY - Business owners in several Bergen County towns say they are fed up with paying into a business improvement fund, without getting benefit in return.
Joe Tantullo has owned Park Avenue Pet Center in Rutherford for more than 30 years. Since 1996, he has put money into a fund called the “business improvement district,” which is supposed to promote downtown businesses. Tantullo says he has not seen any benefit in years.
"After 17 years of no improvement, nothing is really changed except they keep taking our money. It's a money-grabber,” he says.
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Business and property owners downtown are required to pay yearly dues to the cooperative, which is supposed to hold events to lure in shoppers and help with advertising.
"Initially we saw a lot of events and things from it and it was doing well for a while,” says Tony Ugliarolo, owner of Rutherford Music Exchange.
Tantullo says he would like to see Rutherford do away with the fund.
"If this truly is a membership, we should have the right to join or not join,” he says. “I would prefer not to join."
However, town officials say the fund will stay in effect for now. A councilman tells News 12 New Jersey there is a new board, which is committed to using social media and holding events to bring new businesses downtown and more shoppers.