WILDWOOD — The search for new revenues and a drop in ratables has delayed introduction of the city’s 2014 budget, Wildwood officials said this week.
Commissioner Pete Byron, who oversees revenue and finance, said Monday that he had hoped to have a budget introduced by now, but efforts to cut spending and increase revenues continue.
“We’re a little disappointed we haven’t done it already,” Byron said.
According to the state Division of Local Government Services, municipalities have until April 25 to adopt their 2014 budgets.
Timely introduction and adoption of budgets, the division said, allows for time to address structural budget challenges, allows the public to participate in the process, and “provides financial markets with confidence in our system, resulting in New Jersey municipalities receiving favorable interest rates.”
Byron said the city’s dispute with event organizers over what fees should be paid for beach events is one of the reasons for the delayed introduction along with a drop in ratables.
“We definitely counted on some of the new revenue from event fees,” Byron said.
That issue reached some conclusion last week when the city agreed to accept money from the Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement and Development Authority to help offset some of the related expenses.
But the city is looking for other revenues after seeing the city’s property values drop following a recent revaluation.
Last year, Wildwood was worth $1.541 billion, but now the value is down to $1.419 billion.
“The values have dropped, but the expense of running the city goes up,” Byron said.
The city, for instance, currently has about 215 full-time employees and 15 to 20 part-time employees..
Byron said he hopes to see the budget introduced in May, possibly at the May 14 meeting, but Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr. said Monday it could be closer to June.
“I’m not introducing a budget until I feel comfortable with it,” he said. “There are so many variables involved.”
The commissioners hope to include in the budget revenue from a number of beach-related contracts for a planned beach bar and other activities such as a zip line across the beach.
But they are still waiting for some of those bids to be awarded, and the beach bar is awaiting approval from the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
The beach bar, for instance, could deliver between $35,000 and $50,000 to the city this year.
Byron said it was premature to speculate on what the 2014 local property tax rate would be, but he said, “It’s going to be a tough year.”
Troiano said the effect of any possible tax rate increase on homeowners will also depend on how individual properties were assessed and whether a property’s value increased or decreased.
Last year, the local purpose tax rate was $1.103 per $100 of assessed valuation. That meant a home valued at $300,000 paid $3,309 in local taxes. That figure does not include county, school or other taxes.
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