CAPE MAY POINT — Municipal property taxes will not rise, for the third year in a row, but residents do face higher water and sewer bills.
Borough Commission on Thursday night introduced a $1.7 million budget that keeps the tax rate at 25.8 cents for each $100 of assessed value, the same as last year. Taxes had declined slightly the two previous years.
“We have a zero increase in the tax rate and an increase in the surplus of $20,000 to $402,000,” said Mayor Anita van Heeswyk.
The borough has only 291 year-round residents and few full-time workers. Small things can have big effects on a budget in such a small town. Commissioner Robert Mullock said a new, and very favorable, five-year trash and recycling contract helped.
“We’re saving $125,000 over the next five years, including $20,000 this year,” said Mullock.
The budget includes $440,614 for salaries and wages, which is up 0.43 percent. Another big expense is debt service at $347,050.
Most of the revenue, $1.3 million, comes from taxes. The borough gets only $26,176 in state aid. The budget uses $105,000 from surplus but leaves $401,854 in the kitty. Other revenue comes in from sources such as beach tags and rental license fees.
The amount to be raised by taxes is up by less than $3,000, or 0.22 percent, but this was canceled out by other factors including a $1.4 million jump in ratables.
The good budget news is tempered somewhat by an increase in sewer and water rates. Mullock said each would go up by $7 per quarter and would take effect for the last two quarters of the year. Mullock said residents would thus pay $28 more this year for the services.
The sewer increase was caused by a Cape May County Municipal Utilities Authority rate hike, Mullock said. The county treats the town’s sewage. The water hike comes from higher charges from Cape May, which supplies water from its desalination plant. Mullock said the utility has absorbed these increases in recent years but can’t put off rate hikes any longer.
There are other factors. Water conservation is leading to less use and therefore smaller bills for charges above the flat rate, known as excess charges. Mullock said there have been 25 water pipe breaks this winter due to the cold weather, and some of the lost water is the borough’s responsibility.
“We get charged for the water by Cape May. If the break is on one side of the (water) meter, we pay. On the other side, the (homeowner) pays,” Mullock said.
The public hearing and vote to adopt the budget is set for 7 p.m. April 10 at the fire hall on Yale Avenue.
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