WILDWOOD — Contractual salary increases and health care costs are behind a proposed 1.4 cent increase in the city’s local purpose tax rate, officials said Wednesday.

The average residential property assessment, according to the city’s tax assessor, is $222,926, which means the local tax bill on that average property would increase from $2,425 to $2,452.

City Commission introduced its $23.9 million budget during Wednesday’s regular commission meeting. A public hearing on the spending plan is set for May 8.

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Commissioner Pete Byron, who oversees revenue and finance, said the increase was necessary to support expected increases in salaries and health care expenses. The budget contained no new short-term revenues, he said.

Past city budgets have incorporated one-time revenue sources, a practice that has led to financial hardship when those revenue sources disappeared.

“There are no one-shot deals here,” Byron said.

Under the proposed budget, the local tax rate would increase from $1.088 per $100 of assessed valuation to $1.10, up 1.485 cents.

Byron noted that the city’s ratable base, now at $1.53 billion, has declined due to tax appeals.

The city has managed to reduce its staffing and has 124 employees this year.

That’s down from as many as 190 in 2010, Byron said.

Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr. credited Byron, CFO Jeanette Powers, department heads and city employees with helping to improve the city’s financial condition.

He said this budget was introduced earlier than any he could remember since he first became a city official in May 1999.

Byron said state officials also welcomed the budget given the city’s history of introducing and adopting budgets later than many municipalities.

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