NORTH WILDWOOD – A continuing effort to reduce the number of city employees through attrition, a reduction in police salaries under a new contract and the availability of $1.9 million in surplus helps keep the city’s tax rate stable under the proposed 2013 budget.

Despite rising health care expenses, the city’s tax rate will remain steady this year at 61 cents per $100 of assessed property value, or $610 per $100,000 of property value.

That means the owner of a home assessed at the average residential assessment of $323,059 would pay $1,971 in local purpose taxes. That figure does not include school, county or other taxes.

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Mayor Bill Henfey said Monday that the tax levy, the money collected to pay the city’s operating costs, would go down by $43,120, or less than 1 percent, from $16.72 million in 2012 to $16.68 million this year.

The overall budget, meanwhile, is up slightly from $25.5 million last year to $25.6 million in 2013.

Henfey said the city saw its ratable base decline about $9.5 million largely due to tax appeals, and he expected that number could have been higher if the city had not recently conducted an in-house reassessment.

The budget makes use of $1.9 million in surplus, but another $41.8 million in surplus is still available to the city if needed.

Henfey said the city is benefiting from efforts to continue to reduce the number of employees by not replacing those who leave.

The city had 122 employees in 2011. That number is now 109, City Clerk Scott Jett said.

For example, Henfey pointed to efforts to combine jobs, such as having the tax assessor also serve as the city’s chief financial officer.

“Certain positions you have to replace, but we look very closely at it,” Henfey said.

The 2013 spending plan includes funding for ongoing infrastructure repairs and improvements such as renovations to 26th Avenue.

Henfey credited city department heads with also understanding the need to save and reduce costs.

“What’s good is that all the department heads and all the employees recognize we’re in a tough economy,” he said. “There’s no smoke and mirrors in this budget.”

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