By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
MARGATE – The Board of Commissioners Thursday, April 4 approved introduction of the city’s $37.9 million 2023 municipal budget. The local purpose tax rate will remain at $.617 for the 11th year in a row, Chief Financial Officer Lisa McLaughlin said.
Taxpayers will pay $616.97 per $100,000 of assessed valuation for municipal services in 2023. A property assessed at $750,000 will pay $4,627.30 and a property assessed at $1 million will pay $6,169.93.
The local purpose tax levy is up 2.25% or $535,683 over last year for a total of $24,304,934.
An $80.8 million or 2.09% increase in the assessed valuation of the city helped to maintain a flat tax. The increase is mostly due to older properties being razed and replaced with new, larger, and more expensive homes. The total value of real property in the city is $3,939,385,000.
After using $5.3 million of its available surplus to bolster the budget, the city will still have $3,876,728 in reserve to help with future budgets.
“We are in a very good position as of right now, and we definitely have utilized excellent fiscal responsibility in preparing this document,” McLaughlin said.
Auditor Mike Garcia of Ford-Scott Associates of Ocean City said the budget is well below the state-imposed spending and tax levy caps. The budget is $1.8 million below the 3.5% spending cap allowed by the Division of Local Government Finance, and $4 million below the 2% tax levy cap. The city also enjoys a 99% tax collection rate, which keeps in check the amount of money that needs to be collected to make up for those who do not pay their taxes.
“You are on good footing going forward,” he said.
Other revenue highlights include receiving $809,637 in state aid, and grants totaling $626,553, a majority of which is from the Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Act received a few years ago, which is being used to replace water meters throughout the city.
The city will collect $1,882,872 from taxpayers to fund the Margate Public Library according to a state formula, and $1,417,762 to fund a portion of the school budget.
The city budgeted an additional $70,000 for capital improvements not funded through grants, for a total of $395,000, and an additional $771,300 for debt service, up 16.03%, bringing the total amount to $5,582,400.
McLaughlin said based on input from the city’s financial advisor, the city may decide to delay a planned bond sale later this year based on interest rates at that time.
Municipal salaries and wages will increase 2.62% or $343,296 over last year, bringing the total to $13,435,850.
Police salaries, wages and expenses are $24,000 less than last year’s total of $4,477,250, and salaries, wages and expenses for the Fire Department are up $78,552 for a total of $4,270,000. Salaries, wages and expenses for Public Works are down slightly to $1,501,000. The city will spend $592,500 to fund Beach Patrol operations, $145,500 for beach maintenance, and $650,590 for recreation.
Commissioner of Finance Maury Blumberg thanked McLaughlin and department heads for their help delivering “a great budget…in an extraordinary year where costs are ever increasing, (and) we are able to say we are delivering an 11th straight year of no tax rate increase.”
The User Friendly Budget and full budget is available to download at the city’s website, margate-nj.com.
A public hearing and adoption of the budget is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday, May 4.
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