WILDWOOD CREST -Borough Commission introduced a 2010 budget Wednesday morning that comes with a 6.6-cent tax increase.

The tax rate will increase from 49.5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to 56.1 cents.

The increase means the owner of a $300,000 home would pay $1,681.61 in local purpose taxes, up $196.61 from the prior year.

The $21 million spending plan, up $1.4 million from last year's budget, comes with a $12.83 million tax levy, the amount supplied by taxpayers.

Borough Clerk Kevin Yecco said the bulk of the increase in the budget can be attributed to debt service payments of $780,000, which includes the principal and interest on major projects including the Seaview Avenue reconstruction work.

The remainder of the increase comes from an additional $450,000 in health insurance costs and contractual salary increases.

Wildwood Crest's employees already contribute to the cost of their health insurance. Employees hired prior to Dec. 31, 2009 pay 5 percent of their health insurance plan costs, while employees hired after Jan. 1, 2010 pay 10 percent.

The only employees not contributing are those working under the city's PBA contract, which is currently in arbitration, and some EMTs and dispatchers, whose contracts have not yet expired. The borough wants those employees to also contribute to the costs of the healthcare plan.

Wage freezes are also on the horizon, Yecco added.

The borough has 99 full-time employees and 6 permanent part-time employees.

A public hearing on the budget will be held at 9:30 a.m. May 12 in Borough Hall.