Council introduces budget with 12-cent tax increase

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EGG HARBOR CITY – The City Council March 27 introduced its 2014 municipal budget with a proposed 12-cent tax increase, and adopted ordinances for salaries and bonds.

With the absence of City Council President and Finance Committee Chairman Edward Dennis, President Pro-tempore Hazel Mueller, who is also a member of the finance committee, took the gavel to move the agenda along.

The $5,581,939 budget was introduced without comment from the dais. A public hearing on the budget will be held at 7 p.m. April 10, but might not be adopted until summer, Mueller said. The amount to be raised by taxation is $4,305,560.

Although the budget is $346,202 less than last year, revenue is down, which will increase the tax rate by 11.8 cents to $1.915 from $1.797. The average homeowner with a house assessed at $141,000 will see their municipal taxes increase $169 this year.

“We are hoping to reduce the increase before we adopt it,” Chief Financial Officer Jodi Kahn said after the meeting.

The city is hoping to use one-time revenue from the sale of the Ambulance Squad Building to reduce the increase, Kahn said. Council, which also serves as the city’s Redevelopment Committee, designated the building a redevelopment area earlier this year following the demise of the Volunteer Ambulance Squad. City officials said they would soon issue a request for proposals from commercial developers with a minimum bid amount of $250,000.

 

The city used revenue from the May 2012 sale of land in the Egg Harbor North redevelopment area to bolster last year’s budget, but the city had only $84,500 to apply to this year’s budget, Kahn said.

The end of year accelerated tax sale ensured that Egg Harbor City collected 99-percent of taxes due in 2013.

Expenditures were flat across the board, with minor decreases for police, public works and court employees, but the savings were offset by minor increases in insurances and electric. Court revenue and the cost of pensions was reduced by $29,422 Kahn said. The introduced budget does not contain revenue received last year from grants and FEMA reimbursements.

The council also passed a capital ordinance appropriating $17,000 for police safety equipment, a metal detector for the court and a plow and leaf box for the Public Works Department.

Additionally, the council approved a new salary ordinance setting police salaries and salary ranges for Teamsters and non-bargaining personnel. The ordinance allows city officials to hire new personnel and pay them within the approved salary guide without having to introduce a new ordinance each time someone is hired. The last salary ordinance was passed in 2008.

Higher level police officers, including sergeants, lieutenants and captain, will get a 1-percent increase in 2015 and 1.5-percent increase in 2016, after their 2-percent increase this year.

Several non-bargaining positions, including the administrator post, were eliminated. Salary ranges for some positions remained unchanged or were reduced. More than a dozen were increased slightly.


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