Ventnor City Hall

Ventnor City Hall

File Photo

VENTNOR — The city commissioners introduced five bond ordinances at their Oct. 19 meeting for capital projects totaling $20.7 million.

If approved, the bonds would "move the city forward" by appropriating funds to be spent over the coming years to improve water and sewer facilities, pave roads and purchase equipment, the commissioner said.

Auditor Leon Costello of Ford Scott Associates of Ocean City said some of the funding would be reimbursed by grants and noted that the debt service on the loans would not be payable until the money is actually borrowed.

The measures follow a special work session held Sept. 28 to discuss the commissioners’ wish lists of capital projects and how they could be funded.

At the work session, the commissioners said the money saved from ratifying new contracts with the city’s five bargaining units and the recent refunding of existing bonds would stabilize finances and allow the city to borrow money with only a "minimal" increase in taxes.

“This is really impactful. It’s important long-term stuff in the city that’s really needed, and I feel as though we are in a position to do it in an intelligent way,” Commissioner Tim Kriebel said.

Commissioner Lance Landgraf said getting the city's finances in order would allow it to modernize infrastructure.

“We were able to get things under control and can make some positive movements forward,” he said.

The commissioners are looking to borrow funds from the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust to repair storm drains, he said.

“There is a lot of infrastructure in this town that has been left for a long time unmaintained, and left to just fall apart — the bulkheads, storm sewer system, sanitary sewer system. It’s like your house. If you don’t take care of it, it will fall apart,” Landgraf said in response to a question from a resident about the state of nuisance flooding in Ventnor Heights that comes from storm drains.

“Our goal is to get the city back on its feet, get things fixed so we can move the town forward,” he said.

Kriebel said one of the governing body’s main responsibilities since being elected nearly 18 months ago is to preserve property values.

“Getting our financial house in order has been our main priority, and now we can start take steps to fund the things on a prioritized basis,” he said.

Mayor Beth Holtzman was absent.

• Bond ordinance 2017-038 will amend an ordinance approved in 2007 and increase the previous appropriation by $802,824, bringing the total bond amount to $1,230,324. The breakdown on projects includes $450,000 to rehabilitate the Ventnor Fishing Pier; $676,400 for improvements to the library, lifeguard stations and tennis courts; $139,600 for public safety equipment including lifeguard boats, parking meters, recording equipment and turn-out gear; and $30,000 for basketball court improvements.

• Bond ordinance 2017-039 appropriates $400,000 for water and sewer utility improvements including replacing sewer mains and lateral improvements on the Wellington and Winchester lines, plus gas chlorine system improvements and improvements to the Surrey Avenue pump station.

• Bond ordinance 2017-040 appropriates $4,576,430 for water and sewer utility improvements including lateral improvements on Baltimore, Derby, Newark avenues from Monmouth to Winchester Avenue; stormwater evaluations and improvements; vehicle purchases such as utility trucks, ATVs and a trailer; water mains at various locations; and the purchase of fire hydrants, meters, meter housing and an emergency generator.

• Bond ordinance 2017-041 appropriates $13,209,039 for general capital improvements as follows: $800,000 for bulkhead improvements at Surrey and Calvert avenues; $500,000 for drainage improvements along Kingsley Drive; $3,774,700 for improvements to the public works building, including grading the lawn and installation of a new roof  improvements to police headquarters, Fire Station 2, the library, tennis courts and municipal lot. The bond also appropriates $3,799,536 for improvements to various roads; $500,000 for curbs, gutters and ramps; and $1,225,900 for public safety vehicles, security cameras, surf boats, jet skis and SUVs. The bond appropriates $709,000 for a fire engine and ambulance; $480,000 for an SUV with plow, a loader, backhoe and crane; and $1,419,903 for an elevation assistance program that will be reimbursed by a grant.

• Bond ordinance 2017-042 appropriates $1,785,000 for park and beach improvements including the installation of a pickleball court, improvements to Ski Beach, landscaping, installation of a living shoreline at Ventnor West, the city’s share of beach replenishment and ramp walkover improvements.

The commissioners said they would “prioritize” the items they want to focus on first and borrow the funds when projects are ready to begin.

“We can start preparing bids,” Administrator Maria Mento said, then borrow when the city is ready to award contracts.

Public hearings on the ordinances will be held 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16.

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