By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr
Sea Bright – The council meeting scheduled for April 21, at 7:00 p.m. took a little longer than normal to start. In compliance with COVID-19 regulations, the public had phone access to the meeting while borough officials were having difficulty getting onto their video portion of the meeting.
Once all the bugs were worked out the meeting proceeded. The most important topic was the 2020 budget. Michael Bascom, Chief Financial Officer stated that the planning process was the tale of two emergencies. He stated that Sea Bright was just coming out of the devastating effects of Superstorm Sandy and now the results of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bascom said that a majority of ratable base has returned following the 2012 category 3 hurricane that nearly flattened Sea Bright. However, COVID-19 has now had serious tax implications on the borough. The amount to be raised by taxation is up 3.67% as compared to 2019. The taxable value in the borough has increased by $44,800,000.00.
According to Bascom that is equivalent to a penny rate decrease of approximately 1.1 cents per $100 of assessed value. Total increase in tax levy is $165,000.00. In 2019 the tax rate was 57.8 cents, in 2020 it is projected to be 56.7 cents.
The average home in Sea Bright is about $631,740.00 with a projected tax rate of .567. The municipal tax paid by the average residence is $3,578.93. Homeowners will pay approximately $72.00 less in 2020 than they did in 2019, that is a 2% tax decrease.
“There is no drastic measures needed,” said Bascom. However, revenue in Sea Bright is already down as a result of the court being closed and they have to assume that tax collections will be down and they have no idea what the beach revenues will look like. “We are planning that beaches will open on time, but if they don’t we have to adjust for those losses.” Sea Bright will be in a modified freeze on spending.
New Jersey has changed their budget year from July to the fall, and that will have an impact on the borough. They don’t know how much aid they will receive or when and if they will get it. Beach revenue is a huge source of funding, and with the uncertainty of the summer, Sea Bright is taking all the precautions. Memorial Day is the scheduled beach opening.
Christine Pfeiffer, municipal clerk, stated that the primary election for Sea Bright has been moved to July 7.
Council President Charles H. Rooney, III said that the Sea Bright United Methodist Church, located at 1104 East Ocean Ave, on every Wednesday and Saturday night will ring its church bells for five minutes. “We encourage residents to go outside and bang their pots, clap and help us praise emergency responders, healthcare workers, fire and police during this difficult time,” said Rooney.