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Public Gets First Look at Proposed Sea Bright Budget

SEA BRIGHT: The public got its first chance to see and review the 2015 municipal budget on April 21

The 2015 municipal budget totals about $10.3 million, compared to $9.39 million in 2014.

The budget calls for a 3-cent tax increase, to $0.890 per $100 of assessed property. The tax increase means the total amount to be raised by taxes is up about $155,000, to a total $3.904 million.

Therefore, the owner of the average borough home assessed at $367,300 would pay $3,267 in municipal taxes.

The budget will be amended in the coming months once the borough receives a Community Development Block Grant For Essential Services due to the ongoing Hurricane Sandy recovery process. Last year the borough received $1.002 million from the federal government to help balance its budget.

Once the council finds out how much it will be receiving from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, the budget can be amended and adopted.

Sea Bright Chief Financial Officer Michael Bascom said this is the final year for the essential services grant and that the borough must regenerate its ratable base to offset the loss in subsequent in years.

Some of the biggest reasons why the budget is as high as it is include a $947,365 appropriation for the sea wall project and a $1.34 million appropriation for the borough's streetscape project. The costs for both projects will be paid for by FEMA and the NJDEP as well as HUD. The budget also reflects the final $1.8 million payment on Hurricane Sandy borrowing that is being paid off two years earlier than projected. These three items total over $4 million in the 2015 budget.

The taxable values in the borough also remain low in the borough.

Since Sandy, we're still down $80 million in lost value, so we're at $518 million prior to Sandy and we're at $438 million now," Bascom said. "This is an area that is critical to financial stability of Sea Bright."

Bascom said most of the borough's departmental budgets are "relatively stable" with some increases in police salary and wages and health benefits.

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