The Boards of Commissioners in Ventnor and Longport have approved their municipal budgets with tax rate increases not seen for several years. However, Margate has managed to maintain a stable tax rate again this year.

According to municipal auditors from Ford Scott & Associates of Ocean City, many towns are seeing tax increases mostly due to a statewide increase in the cost of health insurance premiums, pension payments and contractual increases in salaries.

At Ventnor’s budget hearing May 11, auditor Leon Costello said the city’s sizable 7.6-cent tax rate increase included increased costs for trash collection and other insurances as well.

“Everything caught you all at once,” he said.

The city used more of its fund balance to offset what would have been an even greater increase.

Although Ventnor’s $37.9 million budget included an 8.6% increase in the tax levy ($26,089,477), it was $529,000 less than the state imposed spending cap and $1.85 million below the tax levy cap.

The new tax rate will be $1.223 per $100 of assessed valuation, up from $1.146 last year. Homeowners will pay $1,222 per $100,000 of assessed valuation for municipal services for an annual increase of about $76. A property assessed at $750,000 will have a municipal tax liability of $9,171.87, up $576 from last year.

Costello called it “an anomaly” year.

“This is rare,” he said. “We got blindsided from all sides.”

Commissioner Tim Kriebel said the city “pulled every lever we thought we could, and every department struggled with it. We do not take this lightly.”

He also said that the average homeowner would be paying about $150 a year less in taxes than they did in 2017, mostly due to residential tax abatements and increased property values.

Mayor Lance Landgraf said the city would be seeking other options for health care insurance in 2024.

Decreases in county taxes and a significant decrease in school taxes will soften the blow, officials said.

In Longport, where the tax rate will increase 1.4 cents, auditor Michael Garcia said Wednesday that the borough has been working on its budget since the start of the New Year.

“It’s a tough budget year. We started with a tax rate increase of more than 5 cents, but reduced it to 1.4 cents,” he said.

The borough’s $10.34 million municipal budget calls for a 4.26% increase in spending, 3.5% of it for salaries and wages. Health insurance “skyrocketed” 30% ($120,000) and pension costs regulated by the state increased $74,000, he said. Longport also had a $98,000 increase in debt service to pay for public works projects, including sinking a new well, refurbishing the water tower, installing a bulkhead, road reconstruction and recreation improvements.

“All our departments worked hard on it,” Commissioner of Finance Jim Leeds Sr. said. “All municipalities had an increase.”

Longport’s new tax rate is $.3568, which will increase taxes $14 a year for $100,000 of assessed valuation. Property owners with a house valued at $1 million will pay $3,567.54, or $140 more for municipal services.

In Margate, the city approved its $37.9 million budget last week. The city used $5.3 million in surplus to maintain a flat tax for the 11th year in a row.

The local purpose tax rate will remain at $.617. 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.

Public hearings on all three budgets garnered no comments from the public.


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Categories: Downbeach

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.