It’s not every day the township gets a multi-million dollar revenue infusion, so Deputy Mayor Greg Gallo wants to make sure they put the money to its absolute best use.
PREIT (Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust) president Joe Coradino has repeatedly claimed the company is for four liquor licenses—$1 million apiece—for restaurants at the Moorestown Mall. The township is set to introduce and adopt an ordinance in January for the implementation of licenses.
“It’s time council started thinking specifically about the smart use of that money,” Gallo said Monday. “It’s a large amount of money. It’s a non-recurring amount of money … It’s very important we act responsibly to not let that money drip away.”
Though he didn’t outline a specific plan, Gallo advocated putting the license revenue into an interest-bearing account. Even in today’s ugly financial market, with interest rates at record lows, the township could earn a substantial amount of revenue this way over a period of time, he said.
“We could have that be generating income to pay the debt service on capital projects,” he said, indicating such a plan would ultimately benefit the taxpayers.
Gallo said he would be willing to head up a strategic stewardship committee to evaluate the best use of the liquor license revenue.
"We need to avoid quick fixes and gimmicks," he said.
Township manager Scott Carew was less forthcoming with his thoughts about how the money should be used, though he said he and chief financial officer Tom Merchel had given the matter a great deal of thought.
“I have my thoughts on it, as I’m sure everyone in town has their thoughts,” Carew said. “We will look to use that money in the most fiscally responsible way possible.”
Merchel, who recommended council set the minimum bid for a license at $1 million (based on PREIT’s pledge), had over an eight-year period ($500,000) and use the extra revenue to reduce taxes. The average taxpayer would see a $60 reduction in their taxes, he said.
Township council is expected to introduce the liquor license ordinance at its first meeting in January and then formally adopt it later that month. The earliest PREIT would then be able to bid on licenses would be February, though Coradino has so far been non-committal on when the company would be ready to bid.