LONGPORT – Municipal taxes will increase 8.12% this year according to the borough’s $20.6 million budget introduced at the March 20 Board of Commissioners meeting.

The municipal tax levy, which accounts for a third of the total budget, will increase $702,411 to $7,594,273, up 10.19% over last year’s amount. Add to that school taxes at $1.48 million, and county taxes estimated at $10.8 million.

A homeowner with an average residential assessment of $1.1 million, will pay $319 more for municipal services this year.

The library tax figured on a state formula based on the borough’s total assessed valuation of $1,966,811,300 will increase $160,310 to $968,333.

Although revenue decreased for certain line items, the borough anticipates a 1.42% increase in revenue, while appropriations will rise 15.87% to $11,547,371.

The borough has 29 full-time employees, including 13 police officers, and 129 part-timers at a total cost of $5.86 million, and will pay $550,386 for their healthcare coverage, up $51,140 since last year.

The borough holds $14 million in bonds and notes for municipal and utility purposes and will pay $1.49 million in debt service payments this year.

Commissioner of Finance James Leeds thanked Chief Financial Officer Jenna Kelly, Administrator A. Scott Porter, and Auditor Mike Garcia of Ford-Scott Associates for their work reducing the budget.

“They spent a lot of time on it and all the departments came through,” Leeds said.

Leeds expressed disappointment that a major purchase for the Longport Volunteer Fire Department was eliminated from the borough’s capital plan, which he wanted included in an upcoming bond ordinance.

“I don’t think we need one and it’s a big expense,” Commissioner of Public Safety Dan Lawler said, explaining why he removed it from the bond. “We’re looking at $2 million. How much will we use the truck?”

Lawler said it has been difficult to recruit new firefighters.

“Who knows where we’re going to be in five years with the fire department?” he said.

Leeds noted that the apparatus the department has now is more than 20 years old and he is concerned about firefighter safety.

“None of us is driving around in a 20-year-old vehicle,” Leeds said. “We have to consider there is a considerable savings using volunteers over a paid department.”

Mayor Nicholas Russo said the department enjoys the protection of mutual aid agreements with surrounding communities in the event of a working fire.

“It takes 36 seconds for Margate’s vehicle to cross 36th Avenue,” Russo said.

“I’m concerned about the safety of our volunteers,” Leeds said. “I was disappointed to see the budget cut and we’re not bonding for it. Think about what our volunteers are saving us.”

A second reading and public hearing on the budget will be held 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 17 at Borough Hall, 2305 Atlantic Ave.

In other business, the board approved an ordinance raising salary, wages and compensation for borough employees, and another raising certain Construction Code fees.

It also introduced an ordinance to change the time candidates can put out political signs ahead of the 2024 General Election. The change allows candidates to erect a maximum of three signs per property no earlier than 30 days before the Early Voting period set by state law. Early Voting will be available Oct. 26 through Nov. 3 this year. Signs must be removed no later than seven days after the election.

It also passed a resolution issuing a refund of taxes paid by the Estate of Dorothy S. McGee following the transfer of two beach-block lots to the borough. McGee bequeathed the lots to the borough to create a passive park with a gazebo and 3-foot fence, trees and benches.

The board also awarded a beach vending license to WC Ice Cream, the same vendor who sold ice cream and water on the beach last summer. WC Ice Cream will pay the borough $28,350, up 5% over last year’s amount, for the exclusive right to sell ice cream during the 2024 beach season.

Additionally, the board agreed to switch the angle of parking on the ocean side of Atlantic Avenue between 24th and 25th avenues from the current back-in configuration to back-out. The parking spaces will be re-striped before summer.

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Categories: Longport

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

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