Tuckerton Introduces Budget with 1.39 Cent Increase 

Apr 24, 2014

Despite the fact that Tuckerton Business Administrator Jenny Gleghorn and Little Egg Business Administrator and CFO Garrett Loesch were able to convince FEMA to allow the borough to draw down on $600,000 of Community Disaster Funds, the municipal taxes for Tuckerton residents will go up 1.39 cents to .6260 per $100 of assessed value. This means the municipal tax on $100,000 would be $13.96 more than last year, or $626.03; on $200,000 it would be $1,252.06. The municipal tax rate does not include school, regional school, county or library taxes.

The total 2014 budget of $4,528,735 includes a flat state aid figure of $324,612, local revenues (outside of taxes) at $191,000, construction fees of $144,5639 (up from $90,000 in 2013), grants of $1,527 (down from last year’s figure of $9,815), FEMA reimbursements of $180,000 and the FEMA Community Disaster Loan of $600,000. Receipts from delinquent taxes are projected at $103,850.

The amount to be raised by taxes, $2,578,183, is based on a 2014 property valuation of the town of  $411,829,747, down from $419,334,514 in 2013.

The good news is the water and sewer rate is not going up for 2014.

Loesch is acting CFO for Tuckerton through a shared-services agreement with neighboring Little Egg Harbor Township while the borough tax collector is taking classes to get his CFO certificate.

The biggest factor that led to the increase in the tax rate is residual affects from Superstorm Sandy. The tax collection rate was down to 77 percent. If FEMA had not cooperated with the town and allowed the $600,000 as an item of revenue for this year, the tax rate would have been 2.4 cents on the dollar, said Loesch.

“The past couple of weeks we were able to overcome the snags by the federal government and produce a budget that will work well for the borough,” said Loesch.

To be prudent, the town budget has increased the reserve for uncollected taxes to $94,645, equaling $411,910 for this budget year. The borough will pay about $10,000 less in debt service, or $352,180.

Operating costs, including salaries and wages, is $1,464,650, an increase of $67,010 in 2014.   

Mayor Buck Evans said both Gleghorn and Loesch plus borough department heads did an “outstanding job.”

“Thank you for your dedication; it shows that shared services does work,” said Evans.

The public hearing and a second reading on the budget will be held at a 7 p.m. municipal meeting on May 20.

Council President Jim Edwards said he had attended a series of meetings at the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve, with Little Egg Harbor and New Jersey Future. The meetings are dedicating to finding ways to make the borough and the township more flood resistant and to help with the Community Rating System by which flood insurance rates are lowered.

Edwards said moving the police station out of the flood zone on South Green Street to the new Municipal Complex on Route 9 would help with the borough’s CRS. He also said the meetings with NJ Future will help with finding grants specific to the borough, and information developed by the JCNERRS could be used in the preparation of the borough’s new master plan, all at no cost to the borough.

“Tuckerton has been put in a good light for being pro-active,” said Edwards.  

He said the Waterways Commission and the Environmental Committee would be instrumental in suggesting solutions to erosion in the Tuckerton Beach area.

The Barnegat Bay Blitz will be on Friday, April 25, and will center on First Bridge on Great Bay Boulevard with volunteers to gather at 9 a.m., said Edwards.

Councilwoman Sue Marshall reminded the public to come to the Tuckerton Library Open House on Wednesday, April 23 ,at 7 p.m., and said on May 2, the 4th of July Committee will be holding a Chicken and Fish Fry at the Parkertown Firehouse to raise money for the fireworks display; it will also host a golf outing at Sea Oaks Country Club on May 12.

The annual Arbor Day celebration and tree dedication will be on Friday, April 25, at 6 p.m. in front of the new Municipal Complex, followed by an awards ceremony in the present Borough Hall for eight winners of the Tuckerton Elementary School’s Arbor Day essay contest.

Councilman Sam Colangelo said the new police department in the new municipal complex is almost finished, and he anticipates they will be moving in next week if all the communications issues are solved.

New sidewalks are being installed along parts of South Green Street as part of last year’s Community Development Block Grant, at no cost to the taxpayers.

Councilman Ryan Short read the court activity report for March: 19 criminal cases were on the docket and 33 were disposed of, one DWI and 96 traffic tickets. Pending are 102 criminal cases and 165 traffic violations. Court fines resulted in $4,114 to the state, $1,687 to Ocean County and $7,113 to the borough less $560 to the public defender.

Mayor Evans said he had heard from the owner of the strip mall on Route 9, Mr. Chen, that he will be back in town and working to complete the project by summer. “Hopefully we will have a new ratable for the borough,” said Evans.

Gleghorn said she had heard back from the company that installed the solar panels on the roof of the former Coastal Learning Center, now the new Municipal Complex. The AMS company has sent a copy of the warranty and has been helpful with suggesting possible ways to bring the infrastructure back on line. “They are submitting a bid for repairs,” she said.

During the public forum, a resident of Second Avenue complained that he returned last week from an out-of-country trip to find borough water and sewer employees turning off his water for nonpayment of the last quarter’s bill. His wife, he said, is totally disabled and was being given a bath by a home health aide when this occurred. He said he asked the employees to wait and he would run up to the borough hall and pay the bill, but they refused. He did pay the bill and water was restored later that day, but now he had to pay $100 for the shut-off and the return to service, a bill he said was outrageous and one he would not pay on principle.

After a good deal of discussion, the resident was told that when the date passed for payment, the orders to shut off the water are automatic and had to be followed through per ordinance.

Another borough resident, from Kingfisher Road in Tuckerton Beach, complained about his water and sewer bill that showed a usage overage of 160,000 gallons of water in 2013. The resident said he always turns his water off in the winter and visits his vacation home only 30 weekends a year. “This is enough water to fill 26 tankers or cover a 50-by 100-foot lot to a depth of 4½ feet of water,” said the resident. “That means every time I came down, I used 1,600 gallons of water. That’s impossible.”

Gleghorn said she was familiar with his problem, but the water and sewer department had tested the water meter and found it in good order and the water had to have gone down the sewer because it would have shown on the outside of the house if there had been a leak.

But she said she would discuss the matter further with the head of the water and sewer department and would get back to him.

Another Tuckerton Beach resident had a bigger problem yet. The Flamingo Road homeowner had a new home after demolishing his house ruined by Superstorm Sandy but was unable to move into his house because the borough construction officials said the house was not built high enough to conform to the borough’s code adopted after Sandy. The ordinance adopted in October 2013 says new buildings in the flood zone must be built at a height according to the Advisory Base Flood map adopted by Gov. Christie’s emergency act, plus between 1 and 3 additional feet of freeboard.

The resident’s required height fell short by 4 inches, Mayor Evans figured after looking at the resident’s information.

“The builders are cutting the pilings too short,” said Gleghorn. “Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident; it has happened a lot.”

She suggested the resident talk with the borough’s construction code official because the borough is preparing to adopt a new ordinance that will reflect the Flood Insurance Maps recently revealed in March.

— Pat Johnson

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