EGG HARBOR CITY — The city's proposed $6 million budget would mean a 13-cent tax-rate increase for property owners.
Members of City Council along with Mayor Lisa Jiampetti, Chief Financial Officer Jodi Kahn and Auditor Leon Costello met Tuesday to discuss the city’s annual spending plan.
Major items affecting this year’s budget include projected revenue declines of $17,000 in municipal court fines, $15,000 in construction code fees and $110,000 in wetlands deed restriction fees from a development rights transfer that had been available the past three budget years but has now run out, according to numbers provided by Kahn.
GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — After two incidents at township schools that required police action this month, Councilman Frank Santo is introducing a social media campaign to incentivize students in the township to make their schools safer by combating loneliness in their peers.
Allocation increases include $40,000 in the reserve for uncollected taxes, $44,000 in payments into the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System and $50,000 to cover a deficit in the water and sewer utility.
“You run lean and mean,” Costello said. “All of these increases are out of your control. Spending is not the problem. Revenues need to stabilize.”
Costello also pointed out that the city’s ratable base dropped from $222 million to $197 million, and under the previous base the increase in the tax rate would be 10 cents.
Jiampetti said the budget includes a $38,000 decrease in costs for the Police Department and that budgeted items under council’s control are only increasing by $4,000.
Resident Nanette LoBiondo Galloway suggested the city again raise the rates for utility customers or assess a one-time fee to offset the utility deficit.
“If that $50,000 increase instead stays in the budget, it will stay there forever,” she said. Council members Donna Heist and Stefania Kuehner agreed with her. Heist is one of the few city residents who does not have city water or sewer service.
“Why should all the residents pay for those who have those services?” she asked.
Kahn agreed to draw up a plan to raise utility fees as an alternative for council members to consider before the budget is finalized. Taking the utility deficit out of the budget would decrease the increase by 2.5 cents per $100 of assessed value.
Council plans to introduce the budget at its March 22 meeting and has scheduled another budget workshop for March 26.