By Neil Schulman
Long Branch — The city has adopted its 2021 municipal budget, and 70 percent of residents will see either no tax increase, or a tax decrease.
At a presentation at the July 14 City Council meeting, City CFO Mike Martin said the total tax rate, money collected for Long Branch, the schools, county and other purposes, is down, from roughly $2.10 per $100 of assessed value in 2020 to $2.00 this year. The municipal portion of that share is also down, from 82¢ to 77¢.
However the average amount a home is assessed for has risen dramatically. In 2019, the median Long Branch home was assessed at $439,000. Today, it’s $502.000. Since the assessments change, that can also affect amount of taxes a resident pays.
The municipal budget is $64 million. Taxes account for $41 million of that. Another $6.4 million comes from local revenues such as parking meter fees (though Martin noted there are free parking lots by the beach reserved for residents only). The remaining funds come from state aid, surplus and other sources.
The biggest portion of the budget goes to the city’s biggest department, the police, with $13 million allocated. The second highest portion goes to the Department of Public Works, $8.2 million, and the third is for debt service, $7.8 million.
This year’s capital improvement projects are for road work, drainage, park improvements, building renovations, and to make enhancements to the Transit Village area around the Long Branch train station.
Mayor John Pallone said that this was a good budget for the residents.
“We are very happy to report that over 70 percent of residents will see either a decrease in taxes or no increase,” he said.
City Council Briefs: New cell tower regulations; contractor rules
Long Branch — Long Branch has adopted a new ordinance describing how telecommunication equipment can be installed for 5G networks.
At the July 14 City Council workshop, City Attorney Louis Rainone said that the high-bandwidth 5G, used by new cell phones and other telecommunication devices, requires more devices like towers and antennas than the older 4G and 3G networks. The city is changing its guidelines to accommodate them.
“We’re adapting this because we have some applicants,” Rainone said.
There are currently no 5G antennas or other devices installed in the city. The goal of the ordinance is to make sure that the impact on the community is minimal, and that the towers and antennas are not unsightly.
New Contractor Regulations
Council introduced an ordinance to set new regulations for those awarded city contracts for construction and maintenance work of over $100,000.
The regulations say that contractors must provide proof of complying with OSHA regulations to ensure worker safety.
Council President Anita Voogt was particularly happy that the ordinance includes a clause on the option of having apprentices on the job, and wants Long Branch residents to be able to take advantage of the opportunities this offers.
“It’s one of those things we campaigned on… to get jobs for residents,” she said.
Voogt becomes president
This was Voogt’s first meeting serving as council president. The five-member council has seen each member serve a year as president, with Councilwoman Dr. Mary Jane Celli remaining as Vice President.