Barnegat Light Plans Half-Cent Tax Hike, Prepares for Summer

Mar 15, 2017

The municipal tax levy in Barnegat Light will go up by a half-cent, under the 2017 budget introduced by borough council March 8. The $3.5 million spending plan brings the municipal tax levy to 21.7 cents.

What that means to taxpayers this year is that, on the average assessed value of a property, which is $785,000 in Barnegat Light, the tax bill will rise by $43.

The budget was one of many news updates spanning all sorts of topics. Another was the planned pavilion at the borough-owned property that was formerly the Coast Guard housing property. (Council members keep saying they need to pick a new name for the area so they don’t have to keep describing it that way.)

Councilman Ed Wellington said that since the last council meeting, it was determined the plan requires engineering specifications.

“It has to go through a structural engineer to make sure it is structurally sound,” he reported. “We’re moving forward,” and “pending approval, we will be another step closer” to having the pavilion ready for band concerts and gatherings.

“I think if we can start by late April, we’ll have it done for summer,” the councilman hopes.

The pavilion seems to be pleasing to a good number of Barnegat Light Taxpayers’ Association members. Association President John Tennyson thanked council and Wellington. “We sent out over 800 emails with a picture of the pavilion,” he said, “and the reaction was overwhelmingly positive; people really liked it. We want to thank you for moving forward on that.”

Water metering, coming in “the next couple of years,” arose in an update from Councilman Michael Spark, who said it won’t be necessary to dig meter pits on properties throughout town. Looking at his garage one morning, he realized the meters could be mounted right on the wall at far less cost, he said.

In short, the direction is that “the borough will supply the meters,” but “the homeowner can arrange with their own plumber” to have them installed.

The end result is that instead of being charged per spigot, property owners will be billed for actual water usage.

“You may want to start contacting your own personal plumber” to plan for the installation and hookup, Spark said. “You do have to get a permit.”

The need for a pass card at the dog park has been in force since March 1. Details are found on the borough website. All users must obtain a dog park gate entry card and a tag.

To get the “paw pass,” residents can go to borough hall on East Seventh Street and show their 2017 dog license (or out-of-town residents can show their current license from their town) along with the current rabies certificate. They will then fill out the required paperwork.

Passes are free to Barnegat Light residents, $30 for nonresidents, and $10 for weekly visitors (Saturday to Saturday.)

The gate entry card must be used to get into the park, and the tag must be worn by the dog at all times while in the park. Users are not allowed to let in other dogs that aren’t registered. The borough may “spot check once in a while,” the mayor added.

For those who are not in town to get the pass at borough hall, they can mail in the registration using forms found on the website, barnegatlight.org, on the “important forms” page. Card and tag can then be picked up during borough hall hours, or borough staff will mail them if the applicant includes a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

During the summer season, passes and tags can be obtained at the beach badge booth behind the post office on West 10th Street. The booth is open Saturdays in May and seven days a week starting in June.

As of March 8, 61 people had purchased paw passes. Twenty-nine of the dog owners were from Barnegat Light and 32 were from out of town, Councilwoman Dottie Reynolds said.

A possible fee schedule change for use of the tennis courts “is yet to be determined,” borough officials said after the meeting. The discussion is expected to continue at the next council meeting.

A brush fire in the dunes near 17th Street on Saturday evening, March 4, was determined to be started by fireworks, said the public safety report given by Councilman Frank Mikuletzky.

Fortunately, winds were pushing the fire to the east, “or it could have gotten out of hand,” he said. The location on the fire company report was listed as 1703 Seaview Ave.

“Some of the remains of a bottle rocket” were found onscene, “right in the midst” of the fire, Mikuletzky reported.

The councilman, who chairs the public safety committee, reminded that fireworks are illegal and dangerous, and Long Beach Township police say “for everyone’s safety, the law will be strictly enforced in Barnegat Light.”

An ordinance was passed on second reading that limits the number of ice cream vendors in the borough to three, and sets a permit fee of $400.

Discussion of the height limit on building was renewed, but not resolved, when a contractor asked if a decision had been made on an earlier idea of raising the height 2 feet above the present 30-foot limit. The mayor said he hadn’t heard objection to that proposal. However, no decision was made at the March council meeting, and he suggested waiting another month to see if he hears reaction from the public.

“Some of the builders talked to me and said it’s not like you’re going higher than the other towns,” Mayor Kirk Larson noted. “We’re going to a limit that the other towns just got rid of; they went to 34, 35 feet.”

Resident Tim Brindley said, “If you want a second opinion, I think it’s a good idea ... now is the best time.”

Last month, some council members had noted that municipalities don’t know yet what the new flood elevation regulations are going to be. They also haven’t been told when those new regulations will be announced.

In the meantime, contractor Keith Ray said he was asking because a customer wants to remodel his home on the ocean side of Central Avenue.

Brindley said he knows someone who got 11 inches of water in his garage in Superstorm Sandy, and if the person had had that extra 2 feet to work with when the structure was built, that wouldn’t have happened.

Councilman and planning board member Ed Wellington, who had favored finding out what the new flood elevations will be, said his reservation is “because of all the others we denied ... when people came before the planning board and asked for an exception, we would always say no.”

In a docks and harbors report. Wellington said Barnegat Light is in the planning stage of replacing the public boat slips.

“The plan is to replace them sometime after this boating season, but before the 2018 season,” he said.

Six floating docks are in another category, which may be in earlier.

“There are currently six floating docks with gangways that we are looking at that are a different product than the finger slips. If we decide to purchase them, the availability and ease of installation may allow us to install them this season,” he told The SandPaper.

On another topic, council approved a two-day skimboarding competition on the beach, nor for this coming summer, but in 2018. Robert Van Meter spoke for the organizers in saying the two-day contest is planned for June, with the exact date to be known in the future, depending upon whether it is listed on a national tour.

The exact beach has not been designated, but Reynolds, chairwoman of council’s beaches and parks committee, wanted to make sure it was not on a busy beach in the south of town. Councilman Scott Sharpless, in charge of public works, said skimboarding conditions probably would be better on the north-end beaches anyway.

The event will use about 150 feet of waterline and stretch for two blocks of beach, and will have 20 vendor tables in small tents, portable restrooms, scaffolding for the judges, a camera crew and a DJ.

Atlantic City Electric is pruning and removing trees to prevent service outages, correspondence from the company reported.

On the dead Japanese pines in several places in town, a resident asked what had happened after the borough consulted a state specialist to see if grant money is available for remediation.

The update, in short, is “wrong bug,” the mayor answered. “Our bugs didn’t qualify.”

Borough officials went on to explain that infestation from the southern pine beetle would have qualified for aid. The beetles found on the trees in question in Barnegat Light were not that type of beetle.

— Maria Scandale

mariascandale@thesandpaper.net

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