WILDWOOD CREST — Increases in health care costs and a drop in ratables are behind a 1.5-cent tax-rate increase in the borough’s proposed 2014 budget.

Total employee group health costs reach $2,965,940 under the spending plan, up from $2,774,800 last year.

Commissioner Joyce Gould, who oversees revenue and finance, said the additional health insurance expenses, combined with a $5 million drop in ratables, required the increase in the local purpose tax rate.

The budget will be introduced Wednesday at the regular 7 p.m. Borough Commission meeting, and a public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 26.

With the increase, the rate would come to 62.7 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. In 2013, the rate was 61.2 cents.

The new rate translates to a local purpose tax bill of $1,881 for a home valued at $300,000. Last year, that same home would have paid $1,836, or $45 less.

Local purpose taxes are collected to support the borough’s operations and do not include school, county, library or open space taxes.

Chief Financial Officer Alicia Belansen, a certified public accountant who joined the borough in October, said Wildwood Crest also is planning to pay as it goes for purchases when possible rather than add to its debt, an approach in keeping with its long-term planning.

“The commission has a solid plan,” Belansen said. “It really does look at efficiencies.”

According to budget documents, the borough has 91 full-time employees, and often when people retire the positions are not filled or are combined with other positions.

“We haven’t had new hires,” Gould said. “They’re really doing more with less.”

The $22.7 million spending plan is supported in part by $14.4 million in local property taxes along with $5.2 million in anticipated revenues and $1.78 million in surplus.

Copies of the spending plan will be available at Borough Hall and online at www.wildwoodcrest.org.

Contact Trudi Gilfillian:

609-463-6716

Senior copy editor for the Press of Atlantic City. Have worked as a reporter, copy editor and news editor with the paper since 1985. A graduate of the University of Delaware.