BRIGANTINE — City Council last week voted unanimously to approve the 2020 municipal budget, which features a $259,000 reduction in spending from the 2019 budget.
This is the fifth consecutive year the city has seen a decrease in property taxes.
The total 2020 budget is $31,145,979.04, resulting in a municipal property-tax rate of 63.5 cents per $100 of assessed value. With the 1.3-cent decrease, a property assessed at $400,000 will pay about $51 less in property taxes this fiscal year.
“It’s very hard to anticipate the economic challenges the city is going to face in 2020,” Deputy Mayor Vince Sera said. “We have had a lot of conversations about the budget and what we can do to put Brigantine in the best financial position.”
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Council also passed a resolution asking Gov. Phil Murphy to extend the grace period for all property tax collections to June 1. Murphy signed an executive order allowing local governments to extend collections to June 1, but county and school taxes were not included in that.
If no grace period is given, the city would have to pay about $6 million in county and school taxes, which council said it would be unable to meet without the May 1 property tax collection.
“The city needs to do everything in its power to help the people of Brigantine,” Mayor Andy Simpson said. “There are so many people struggling, and we need to do all we can to help them.”
City officials reached out to county and state representatives to request that county and school taxes be included in the grace period.
“By now, we know many people have already paid their May 1 taxes, but we need to do something to help the people who can’t make the May 10 deadline,” Sera said. “The state is having a lot of issues with unemployment, and many people are still waiting for their Federal Economic Impact Payment. Extending the grace period could be the difference-maker for so many of our Brigantine families and retirees.”
— CJ Fairfield