BRIGANTINE — City Council adopted a budget May 2 that will decrease the city’s tax rate by 1.3 cents.
City Auditor Leon Costello, who presented the budget to council, said the municipal tax rate for 2018 is estimated at 66.4 cents per $100 of assessed property value.
Costello also reported that the 2018 budget will include a tax levy of $21,694,217, the city's lowest in six years.
In the past four years, the city’s taxes have remained steady and decreased twice.
“I’ve spoken to several different people in different counties. I brag about the city of Brigantine’s taxes being zero or going down,” resident John Pucci said.
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Council members thanked department heads for their conservative spending and Deputy Mayor Andy Simpson for negotiating new police and firefighter contracts.
The adopted budget also shows an increase to the fund balance, totaling $6,355,397 as of Dec. 31.
With this increase in the city’s fund balance, former councilwoman Lisa McClay questioned whether the city’s spending has decreased.
Costello reported that the city is spending at the same rate, using about 45 percent of the balance annually.
Councilman Rick DeLucry also questioned whether council itself was making policy decisions that led to this year’s budget.
“I’m as happy as anyone else, but I’m not going to celebrate as if we’re doing all that much,” DeLucry said.
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He questioned whether the board could do more to decrease discretionary spending, specifically in regards to filling an open position and hiring a full-time engineer.
Brigantine and Ventnor have entered into a shared-services agreement to allow former city Engineer Ed Stinson to consult on projects.
Acting City Manager Roxanne Tosto said Public Works Director John Doring has taken on more responsibility and that Stinson has helped guide her.
“The holes are patched, and we’re moving forward,” Tosto said.