EGG HARBOR CITY — Rising costs of police salaries and pensions and health insurance helped increase the municipal tax rate about 5 percent under the budget City Council introduced Thursday.
The new rate would bring the local government property tax bill to $2,579 on the average home assessed at about $143,500, up from $2,451 this year.
The new rate would be almost $1.80 per $100 of valuation. That is up 8.9 cents from about $1.71 per $100 last year on a total budget of $5.7 million, said the city’s Chief Financial Officer Jodi Kahn.
Kahn said revenues are down $93,000, even though the town had $400,000 in land sales this year.
“It’s going to catch up to us,” she warned. When the land sales slow or stop, “There’s going to be quite a large hole in the budget.”
In addition to police and insurance costs, the increase in spending is driven by a required extra principal payment on debt service this year, she said.
Each penny of the tax rate equals $22,500, Kahn said. So five cents of the increase goes toward rising appropriations, and four cents makes up for falling revenue, she said.
Resident Angelo Lellocq attended the council meeting to express concern over rising taxes in town after reading about a school tax increase of 3.9 cents per $100 of assessed value this year for the Egg Harbor City School District.
“There’s got to be a way to stop the increases in salaries, for just a little bit,” said Lello, a 12-year-resident. He said he is a federal employee and his wages have been frozen for several years.
Mayor Lisa Jiampetticq said the police and public works contracts are coming up for renewal soon, and negotiations will be based on current economic realities. The police contract was last negotiated five years ago, under very different economic conditions, she said.
She and council members said they would like more public input on the budget.
“Most of the time there’s nobody here,” said Councilwoman Ina Durancq, of the lack of public attendance at council meetings.
There will be a public hearing on the budget April 25 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.
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