Somers Point City Council Adopts Budget, Approves of PILOT Settlement

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Somers Point City Hall

By Maddy Vitale

Somers Point City Council adopted its 2018 Municipal Budget at Thursday’s meeting with a 4.36 cent increase to the tax rate in a $15.76 million budget.

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.

Administrator Wes Swain noted when the budget was introduced in March that a loss in ratables and the costs for demolition of some of the city’s abandoned buildings, were some causes for an increase in the budget.

Despite some funding losses, the city still has a robust capital improvement budget of $2.25 million, officials said. It contains several projects for police, fire, public works, recreation, drainage and road projects, Swain said. 

Monies were also set aside in the budget for demolition of abandoned properties in the city totaling $40,000 and $91,000 for affordable housing matters.

In other matters, City Council went into executive session to discuss a tentative agreement reached between Atlantic County and the state of New Jersey over the Atlantic City PILOT program.

Council passed the resolution, approving the tentative settlement. The PILOT program allows casinos to make payments in lieu of taxes with the money distributed among Atlantic County municipalities for budget revenue. Somers Point was one of the first communities in the county to be a plaintiff in the lawsuit. Litigation focused on the amount of money the county and the towns would receive. The county originally sought a 13 ½ percent share.

The tentative agreement gives Atlantic County about $30 million, roughly 75 percent of the revenue it would have received over 10 years, according to Lafferty.

The settlement is awaiting action by all municipalities involved in the lawsuit. But Lafferty said the intent is to move the matter along quickly.

“Litigation is going on intensely and the county, along with the state, has agreed to a proposed settlement that the County Executive (Dennis Levinson) says is acceptable to him and the county and he heartily recommend the proposed settlement,” Lafferty explained. “It is the best scenario.”

In other matters Mayor Jack Glasser gave his mayor’s report noting that Bayfest, which is Saturday, is one of the city’s greatest events.

“It started out as a celebration of our maritime history and has tuned into a fabulous event, adding that a ribbon cutting with former Eagles tight end Brent Celek, and Eagles guard Brandon Brooks will be a part of the ribbon cutting ceremony to kick off the event.

He commended the Patcong Creek Foundation for an impressive cleanup of Steelman Bay April 21.

“Fifty volunteers were there. It was a great day for the town,” Glasser said. “You can’t believe the debris that was picked up there.”

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 10 at City Hall, 1 W. New Jersey Ave. To view the 2018 Municipal Budget visit www.somerspointgov.org