LONGPORT – The borough March 20 introduced its $8.65 million municipal budget with a small tax rate decrease.
The amount to be raised by taxation, $6,723,051, is up 11.5 percent over last year’s amount, but the increase includes the first year of collecting the tax to fund the Longport Borough Municipal Library. A state formula governs the amount to collect from taxpayers to fund a municipal library, which for Longport is $656,597.
Last year, the borough spent $220,000 to operate the library, but this year, the Library Board, which now governs operation of the library, has appropriated $390,000 in spending.
The budget also includes an additional $26,467 for the Public Safety salary and wages line item for the Volunteer Fire Department. According to Chief Financial Officer Jenna Kelly, borough commissioners are appropriating the additional funds pending the outcome of an independent study being conducted by Stockton University on staffing issues in the aging all-volunteer department. The extra funds could be used to hire supplemental duty crews to ensure the department is fully staffed during the summer.
The borough also budgeted $100,000 to be used as a down-payment for capital improvements and $50,000 a four-wheel drive vehicle for the Police Department.
Kelly said the borough is considering issuing a new capital bond this summer that could refinance outstanding bond anticipation notes, along with funding capital improvements that include sinking a new well, resurfacing tennis courts and other miscellaneous items.
The total assessed valuation of the borough is up an estimated $24 million over last year, which helped to reduce the tax rate by three-tenths of a cent. The new tax rate will be 32.7 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.
The average homeowner with a house assessed at $1 million will see their taxes decrease $30 this year, Kelly said.
Finance Commissioner James Leeds thanked Kelly for her work formulating the budget.
“I’m glad we could do a reduction,” he said.
A public hearing on the budget will be held 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 17.
In other business, the commission awarded a $619,700 contract to S. Hughes Electric Company, LLC of Pleasantville to complete electrical improvements at Borough Hall. Hughes was the lowest qualified bidder of three bids received on March 5.
According to engineer Richard Carter, the electrical improvements are the last of the major improvements needed at Borough Hall following Hurricane Sandy.
Also, officials announced that ice cream vendor Paul Van DeRijn of Jack & Jill Ice Cream of Egg Harbor Township declined extending his existing contract to sell ice cream on the beach for another year.
The borough will accept sealed bids from ice cream vendors at 2 p.m. Tuesday, April 9. The minimum bid amount is $30,000 and includes an option to renew for a second year with a 5-percent increase in the bid amount.