By Maddy Vitale
Somers Point City Council introduced a Municipal Budget at Thursday’s meeting with a 4.36 cent increase to the tax rate in a $15.76 million budget.
The proposed budget, unanimously approved by city council, was “the result of a lot of hard work by the budget committee, as well as the entire governing body,” Administrator Wes Swain said before outlining specifics that contributed to the increases.
The amount to be raised by taxation is $11.07 million up from $10.75 million in 2017. The tax rate increase from 92.2 to 96.5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. That means, for an average home assessed at $212,194, a homeowner would pay $2,049 yearly and $170 a quarter. That figure is up from $1,957 last year at $163 per quarter, Swain said.
Swain said there are things to look at when considering the budget proposal. While homeowners will see an increase, they will still have all of the services and programs they are used to, and it is still less than, for instance, what some people pay for cable.
“I put that out there so people can put it in perspective with your services,” he said.
He said there are several issues that continue to face the city, which includes a loss of ratables and costs for demolition of some of the city’s abandoned buildings.
Overall, Swain said because of those and other issues, the value of the city went down $18,800,000 from last year and it lost more than $300,000 in tax revenue due to tax appeals.
To make up for the shortfall, the city has to dip into its surplus. In the proposed fiscal plan, the city would use more than $300,000 to help offset the tax increase.
Despite losses of funding in some areas, the city’s capital improvement budget remains strong in the proposed plan totaling $2.25 million and contains projects for police, fire, public works, recreation, drainage and road projects.
“We still have all of the programs,” Swain said of the services and programs that remain in place. “We have had a very robust capital plan and we have been spending on roads and drainage.”
The city has done numerous road repair and drainage projects throughout the year.
Swain also pointed out changes to some expenditures.
“There are line items with significant increases,” Swain said
A line item for $40,000 will take care of the costs for demolition of abandoned properties. Another line item, totaling $91,000 would be set aside for affordable housing matters.
At the end of Swain’s presentation, Council President Sean McGuigan asked the governing body if anyone had questions. There were no questions.
“This is the introduction. It is still a work in progress up until the time it is adopted,” Swain said. “Any questions from the council or public, you know where to find me.”
City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget at 7 p.m. April 26 at City Hall, 1 W. New Jersey Ave. To view the introduced budget visit somerspointgov.org