Beach Haven Introduces $12 Million Municipal Budget After Recent Revaluation of PropertiesAffordable Housing Obligations Approved
The recent property revaluations in Beach Haven, ordered by the Ocean County Board of Taxation because its ratio of assessed value to true value was down to 83 percent, have resulted in a ratable increase of 22.29 percent. The town’s current actual valuation is $2.06 billion, according to figures from Sharon Boehler, Beach Haven’s chief financial officer. The town’s last revaluation was conducted in 2004.
The new projected tax rate for the 2017 municipal budget, introduced by council during its regular monthly meeting Monday, March 13, is 37.3 cents per $100 of assessed value, which is a slight decrease from last year. Council also approved a 3.5 percent cap bank, amounting to $290,958.57.
Total appropriations for the projected budget are $12,080,149.54, which is an increase of $533,997 over last year’s adopted plan. The amount to be raised by taxation has increased by $413,660.36 for a total of $7,718,839.36.
Increases in the budget include $278,185 for insurance and $23,697 for pensions as well as $31,230 for uncollected taxes. Beach Haven’s collection rate is around 98 percent, according to Sherry Mason, municipal clerk and acting town manager.
This is the fifth and final year the town will be making a $600,000 emergency payment for costs related to Superstorm Sandy. FEMA proceeds, which the town has received in past years, have not been budgeted into the financial plan for the new year since the town doesn’t know exactly what it may receive.
“It’s not a safe bet to estimate what we might get,” Mason said. “We can’t bank on it.”
The town has also budgeted $45,757, a 1.04 percent increase over last year, for salaries and wages. This is relatively low considering many municipalities typically see an increase closer to 2 percent, said Mason.
The town will pay $25,000 less in debt services for a total decrease of 3.3 percent. A surplus of $346,774 will also be used to support the budget.
Minimum appropriations for the Beach Haven Public Library are $680,322.64. Last year’s minimum appropriations were $675,320.
Total appropriations for the separate water utility budget are $1,796,000, which is the same as last year. Although operating expenses decreased $12,500, total statutory expenses and debt services increased $12,500, canceling out the changes.
A public hearing on the budget will be held at the Emergency Operations Center on Pelham Avenue Monday, April 10, at 7 p.m.
In other meeting news, council introduced an ordinance to enact the borough’s third-round Housing Element and Fair Share Plan that was adopted by the land use board the previous week. The proposed ordinance requires all new multi-family residential developments in the borough of five or more units to have mandatory affordable housing set aside for low- and moderate-income units.
Council also introduced an ordinance to establish an affordable housing overlay zoning area in the business district, from 12th to Pearl streets and extending in certain areas to include entire blocks between North Bay Avenue, North/South Delaware Avenue and North/South Beach Avenue with North Bay Avenue running through its center. Another, smaller section extends from Leeward Avenue to the southern border of Beach Haven west only along South Bay Avenue.
“It offers an opportunity for a developer who’s interested in inclusionary development to be able to build more units per acre to make it financially worth their while. So, residential over commercial is what we’re envisioning,” explained Mason.
This plan stems from a settlement agreement with Fair Share Housing to stop the bleeding with legal fees.
“We’re built-out here; we have no realistic development potential here,” Mason said. “We really just have to fulfill our unmet need. We’re not a big town. All we have to do is offer a realistic opportunity to a developer for affordable housing to be developed here, so we are doing that.”
Council also approved a resolution authorizing the land use board to conduct a preliminary investigation to establish a condemnation redevelopment area within the borough. This will allow the town to begin research to designate certain areas in the borough that are in need of redevelopment and ultimately help the town negotiate with interested developers.
“We’re trying to bring redevelopment to town, to bring businesses to town and start getting these empty, abandoned things fixed up,” Mason said.
If adopted, an ordinance to maintain clear intersections, sidewalks, streets and curbs for the health, safety and welfare of the town’s residents and visitors would allow the town to regulate weeds, trash, debris “and the like” at and near sidewalks, streets, curbs and within utility strips.
Mason noted that the town recently applied for state funding to rehabilitate Dock Road, which has been deteriorating for some time.
In regard to the state Department of Environmental Protection’s recent announcement that it would be expediting a project to clear dangerous shoals from Little Egg Inlet and using the sand to replenish beaches on portions of southern Long Beach Island, Mayor Nancy Taggart Davis and Councilman Don Kakstis publicly thanked Long Beach Township Mayor Joseph Mancini, who has long lobbied for the use of inlet sand for beach restoration.
Although dredging most likely won’t begin until the beginning of July, the mayor said, it will be easier for boats to get in and out of the Inlet even during the work.
“We were getting very little boats coming to the tuna/marlin tournament and that sort of thing in the last couple of years, so this is just wonderful news. We’re really excited about that,” said Taggart Davis. “Beach Haven was the lead town along the entire coast, the East Coast, not just New Jersey, where the whole concept of charter fishing started. So we’re really important and important historically as a fishing town.”
Ordinances adopted by council now provide veterans free boat ramp access as well as free pickleball and tennis play. The season pass for all other pickleball players has been increased from $40 to $45.
An ordinance amendment has also been adopted to establish fees for additional services requested or needed by special events permit holders.
Council also adopted an ordinance establishing the maximum number of positions within the police department to include no more than 10 patrol officers, four sergeants, two lieutenants, one captain and one chief along with other members and personnel deemed necessary “from time to time.”
Councilman Chuck Maschal expressed his condolences for the recent passing of James DeFrancesco, of Hogpenny Studios. DeFrancesco recorded all of the town’s public meetings for many years.
“He’s going to be very sorely missed by all the people that are both his friends and those officials in our municipalities on the Island,” Maschal said.
— Kelley Anne Essinger