SOMERS POINT — City Council approved an amended $14.5 million budget Thursday that reduces the amount originally planned to be raised by taxes.
Council originally introduced a $14.3 million plan with a nearly 7 percent increase in the amount to be raised by taxes, from $9.5 million to nearly $10.2 million at last month's council meeting, but voted to amend it after a standing-room-only crowd objected and pleaded with council to find more cuts.
The amended budget approved Thursday reduced the amount to be raised by taxes to $9.9 million, a savings $176,929 from the original draft budget, $30,000 of which came from the city's surplus balance.
Some of the cuts in the amended budget included a $5,000 subtraction from salaries within the finance department and $36,000 for planning, which was replaced by a grant the city received since the last meeting.
Last year the tax rate was $1.38 per $100 of assessed property value. This year it's $0.84 cents, but the rate is down because of a property revaluation this year. Owners of homes assessed at the city average — $216,700 this year — would pay $1,847 on their 2014 local-purpose tax bill, $100 more, or about 6 percent, than what they paid last year, when the average home was assessed at $125,732.
"We heard a lot of comments last meeting and we voted to amend it, roll up our sleeves and find more ways to save," said Council President Maureen Kern.
The city has also began engaging in preliminary discussion with Ocean City regarding shared-service opportunities, which is being funded by a $30,000 grant, as a means of finding even more savings.
The approved budget also includes a $300,000 planning grant as well as $100,000 in capital bonds for recreational projects with $50,000 of it reserved for relocating the city's hockey facility.
Relocating the hockey rink, was a topic of contention at the last meeting as many people spoke out in objection of the plan.
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