Tuckerton Approves Budget With Reduced Tax Increase

May 23, 2018

An amendment to the Tuckerton borough budget approved during the May 21 municipal meeting brings the tax increase down from 3.3 cents to 1.9 cents, or 69 cents per $100 of assessed value. The borough council approved the $4,558,997 budget with a tax levy of $2,842,661.

The long-awaited reconstructed South Green Street Park will require additional patience from the fishermen and public who want to use it; bad weather and other unforeseen problems have pushed back the projected opening. The council approved a change order to pay an additional $3,600 to K&G Marine working on the project and extended the deadline to July 2. The playground, sidewalks and curbing, rough plumbing for the mobile restrooms, water and sewer and electric lines are all in, said Councilman Ron Peterson.

During the council forum, Councilman Keith Vreeland said the Tuckerton Land Use Board has approved legislation establishing a historic commission, and that ordinance will come back to the council in June. Engineer Jack Mallon will also have updates to the master plan for the borough next month.

Councilman John Schwartz is back from Florida and said the borough has applied for two $35,000 grants from the Nature Conservancy that would be used for bulkheading Lanyard lagoon in Tuckerton Beach – the site of a 1990s botched dredging spoils site – and also to complete the extension of the Little Egg Harbor Boulevard peninsula up to the end of Flamingo Road to buffer that area from storm surges.

Council President Sam Colangelo reminded the public that a Household Hazardous Waste Collection of paints and cleaning fluids is scheduled at the Ocean County Recycling Center in Stafford Township on Saturday, June 2.

Councilwoman Doris Mathisen said Kavi Construction still has some punch list items to complete at the new borough hall. She had attended a pre-construction meeting for Heron Road and expects that project, funded by DOT grants, to start the first week of June and last for 180 days.

Mayor Sue Marshall announced the borough has received approval for another DOT Infrastructure Trust Grant of $225,000 for improvements to Curlew Road. Business Administrator Jenny Gleghorn said the borough had already received approval for the same amount in February, so it brings the total to $450,000 for Curlew.

Marshall reminded the public that Safe Boating Week is May 19 through 25. She was sorry to announce that the Coast Guard Auxiliary 7-2 is no longer functioning in Little Egg Harbor.

The mayor welcomed a new professional office that has opened in Tuckerton: Taylor Care Adult Behavioral Health offers mental health services at 213 West Main St.

During the public forum, Tuckerton Volunteer Fire Co. Assistant Chief Lee Eggert said the department underwent an extensive review by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and only one citation was issued – to Eggert for failure to wear a helmet at a recent fire assist in New Gretna. “I’m guilty as charged,” he said. He thanked Gleghorn for her assistance in filling out the paperwork for OSHA certification.

Tuckerton Beach resident Paula Bell asked why some of the trash cans provided to businesses in the borough have Stafford Township printed on them. Colangelo said Stafford had stepped in to help under a shared-services agreement when the borough’s one back-loader garbage truck broke down and some businesses had gone to private haulers. Those that did not were given the cans. Once the borough gets its new trash truck on the road – it was delivered that morning – Stafford will take them back and Tuckerton will provide Tuckerton cans.

Gleghorn said it is the borough’s responsibility to pick up garbage at Village on the Green and Tuckerton Meadows. The borough also picks up garbage from some businesses, but since they pick up only once a week, those with extensive garbage needs have a private hauler.

Bell asked why she, as a resident, should have to pay for having the garbage removed from businesses, and Gleghorn said she doesn’t.

Bell also asked why Tuckerton has to pay more to support Pinelands Regional High School than the other sending districts; Gleghorn said it was because New Gretna, Eagleswood and Little Egg Harbor all increased their overall assessed worth last year, while Tuckerton has not. “That’s one reason why we are doing the reassessment,” she said.

John Zubriski from Tuckerton Beach said he had asked the borough assessor if his house on a lagoon would be assessed for less since he can’t get his boat out during low tide. “Why are we paying more to be on the waterfront if we can’t get our boats out?”

He stated that Tuckerton had not paid anything to improve the waterways and asked why the municipality doesn’t have a fund for that. Mayor Marshall said the borough would be considering that.

Marine Street resident Skip Deckman said he had gone over four years of Tuckerton municipal meeting minutes and found various numbers for bonding projects – specifically the new borough hall – but had seen no mention of grants. Gleghorn said the borough has to bond first and then is reimbursed. Borough Attorney Christopher J. Connors said the bonding is like a “bridge loan” and minutes of meetings are not verbatim – they are to reflect government business.

Two visitors from North Jersey, Lefty Grimes and Michelle Barnes, stopped in Tuckerton as part of their “Ignorance is No Excuse” tour. Grimes has visited 80 municipalities so far to advocate for medical marijuana dispensaries. Barnes said she suffers from multiple sclerosis and is prescribed marijuana to help her walk and function. Although doctors can prescribe medical marijuana, there are only four dispensaries in New Jersey. Barnes, who lives in Bayonne, said if she lived in Tuckerton she would have to travel an hour to two hours to get her medicine.

Grimes made a plea for mercy for the victims of MS, PTSD, cancer and other debilitating diseases and to relieve the suffering of those dying. “I’m asking you to welcome medical marijuana in your town,” he said. Grimes also asked them to rescind an ordinance prohibiting medical marijuana in the borough, although Tuckerton does not have such an ordinance, and only discussed an ordinance prohibiting recreational use dispensaries.

Barnes said she hopes marijuana is not legalized for recreational use. “It would make my medicine look like a joke,” she said.

— Pat Johnson

patjohnson@thesandpaper.net

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