Surf City Introduces 0.5-Cent Tax Rate Increase for 2017 Municipal Budget

Mar 15, 2017

Surf City’s 2017 municipal budget, if adopted as introduced by council at its regular monthly meeting Wednesday, March 8, will increase slightly over last year’s adopted plan. Total appropriations for the projected budget are $6,748,538. The town is using $1,569,000 of surplus in support of the budget, which is $236,500 more in surplus than last year.

Budget increases are due to insurance raises as well as capital needs, including a new front-end loader and possibly a tractor for the beach, both of which necessitate replacements.

“The equipment’s super old,” said Michael Gross, Surf City’s chief financial officer. “We like to pay as you go and include them in the budget rather than buy them outright,” he explained, noting that the town may be able to hold off on purchasing a new tractor, if needed.

The amount to be raised locally by taxation is $4,300,000. The municipal tax rate is 27.2 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, which is approximately a 0.5-cent increase over 2016.

This year’s proposed water and sewer budget, separate from the municipal plan, is $2,308,505, which is $40,105 more than last year due to insurance and employee salary increases.

“It’s very minimal,” Gross noted.

Water and sewer rates are not anticipated to increase since the town will be using surplus to offset the costs.

Prior to the introduction of the budget, council approved an ordinance to exceed the municipal budget appropriation limits and to establish a 3.5 percent cap bank.

“This is nothing more than to keep everything in order,” said Mayor Francis Hodgson.

Council also passed a resolution waiving its right to examine and certify the budget locally, instead allowing the state to perform a desk review of the financial plan.

“It’s a standard operating procedure,” said Gross. “Every fourth year it’s required that the state do a full review of the budget and go through it more diligently and check everything out and question certain things if they feel they should. It just means they go through the whole procedure instead of the standard checklist.”

Due to the timing of the introduction and pending adoption of the budget, council passed a resolution authorizing $286,272 in temporary emergency municipal funds along with $200,000 for the utility budget.

“That just increases the appropriations to cover us until the budget gets adopted,” Gross explained.

A public hearing and adoption on the budget will be held at borough hall during the council’s regular meeting Wednesday, April 12, at 7:30 p.m.

In other meeting news, council passed a resolution supporting the elimination of a proposed pump station near the Route 72 Causeway Bridge in Ship Bottom. The members decided to hold off on the resolution, proposed by Ship Bottom last month, until the council could confirm the details of the state Department of Transportation’s alternative drainage plans.

Despite the fact that Hodgson said it doesn’t matter whether or not Surf City passes the resolution since the state isn’t obligated to build the pump station if it chooses not to, he said he was satisfied to learn of the newly proposed drainage improvements, which include the creation of a new drainage system composed of underground gravity flow pipes that would be installed along Eighth and Ninth streets in Ship Bottom, from Long Beach Boulevard to the bay.

“Our comment last meeting was ‘What’s plan B to get rid of the water?’ They do have a plan B now to get rid of the water, so we’ll reaffirm agreeing with them not to build the pumping station,” the mayor stated.

Council also authorized the purchase of a vehicle from the county for $1. The 2006 truck has 136,000 miles on it, Tom Hudson, public works supervisor, confirmed from the audience.

“It even has a snow plow on it,” Hodgson added. “We’ll take all we can get for a buck.”

The mayor said council will be sending a thank-you letter to Freeholder John Kelly and Deputy Director Gerry Little for their efforts in finding vehicles that the town can use in the community.

Pothole repairs on the roads will be completed once the hot patch plant reopens in a couple of weeks. Public works is in the process of making repairs to the floating docks at the boat ramp in preparation for the summer season.

Beach badges have been ordered and will go on sale sometime during the end of April or early May.

“The beaches themselves have been moving, doing what they usually do this time of year,” said Councilman Peter Hartney.

The annual fishing hole that typically forms on 20th Street has moved down to 18th Street due to beach replenishment last summer. Part of the area will be replenished in the fall.

The town is in the process of getting the county to hard-pack the beach-ends. Hartney said public works employees will be getting their exercise in the spring, digging the fences back out from the sand blown over on the dunes at 23rd and 24th streets to get back down to the hard-pack.

— Kelley Anne Essinger

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