Mayor introduces $69 million budget

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Budget includes a decrease in the local tax levy by $200,000

OCEAN CITY — City Council will consider the 2012 budget over the course of two workshops next week after Mayor Jay Gillian presented the budget at the Feb. 9 council meeting in city hall.

“There’s no question that the state of our city is sound and improving. We continue to budget responsibly, as we have done in the past,” Gillian said. “Locally, we’ve seen promising signs with building permits up and real estate activity that is getting stronger both in terms of sales and rentals.”

The 2012 budget of $69.19 million, up from $68.95 million in 2011, includes a tax levy of $43.16 million, down from $43.37 million in 2011. The budget falls under the 2 percent levy cap by $1.5 million.

The proposed municipal tax rate is 35 cents per $100 of assessed value, up from 33.8 cents, which will mean a $1,750 tax bill for a home assessed at $500,000.

Salaries and wages decreased by over 2 percent, from $28 million to $27.25 million. “Other expenses” are increasing by 4.7 percent, from $20.87 million to $21.86 million.

The budget will use $2.5 million, about 50 percent, of the current surplus for 2012, down $50,000 from 2011. The 2012 budget anticipates $2.26 million in revenue from parking meters, as well as $3.75 million in revenue from beach fees and $900,000 from Aquatic and Fitness Center user fees, for a total of $10.46 million in miscellaneous revenues.

State aid is anticipated at $2.15 million for energy tax receipts. Revenue from library taxes total $4 million.

Interestingly, the cost incurred by the city from benefits like pension has decreased from $5.7 million to $5.6 million.

“My charge to the department heads was the same as it was for my first budget: start at zero and present what is required to maintain services in the most cost-efficient manner,” Gillian said.

He said the budget is lean, with “no gimmicks and no hidden dollars.

“This budget reduces taxes by one half of one percent,” Gillian said.

He said that if the ratable base were to remain the same, the taxes for all citizens would decrease. However, because there have been a number of tax appeals, the savings will vary for each homeowner.

“We’ll discuss these issues at the budget workshops,” Gillian said.

City Council introduced a $6 million bond ordinance for capital improvements including $1 million for dredging, $2.4 million for streets and alleys, $830,000 for facilities improvements, $525 for boardwalk reconstruction, $300,000 for bulkhead repairs, $635,000 for recreation improvements, $205,000 for bicycle and pedestrian improvements, and $155,000 for acquisition and repairs of equipment.

City business administrator Mike Dattilo said that this is the first and largest bond ordinance for 2012. He said there is one difference from the capital plan introduced a few weeks ago: funding for dredging has increased. He said this is due to the pace of the permitting process, which he hopes to have completed by June. Some of the funding for improvements for Carey Field has been moved to 2013, Dattilo said.

“We continue to all agree that our infrastructure has to be improved. As a great a place as this is, the condition of our roads, drainage systems, lagoons and bayfront, our boardwalk and our downtown needs improvements and needs them now,” Gillian said.

He said the capital plan for 2012 and the city’s five-year capital plan is “aggressive, but responsible.”

“The capital plan that I am asking you to adopt tonight devotes another $2.7 million to the road and drainage category and will allow us to improve some of the worst conditions in the city, including parts of Merion Park,” he said.

To read the mayor’s budget address see www.ocnj.us/mayor.

 

 


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