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Today is Friday, December 6, 2019

Sea Bright Bond Referendum Passes

SEA BRIGHT: The voters of Sea Bright have spoken and want to see three bond ordinances that will fund the construction of new municipal buildings move forward.

Over 500 people voted in the special election, with over 300 voting for to approve each of the three questions asked of them on Tuesday, Sept. 27.

The first question asked voters if they supported a $1.4 million bond ordinance for the construction of a community center and the second asked if they support a $3.6 million bond appropriation for the building of a new beach utility.

According to unofficial results, 328 people voted "yes" on question 1 and 330 voted "yes" on question 2. One hundred and sixty six voted "no" on question 1 and 164 voted "no" on question 2.

Both questions needed to pass for the borough to move forward with bidding process for a 8,609 square foot structure that will replace library and beach buildings destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The building will have two floors that will also include an oceanfront deck, storage for police, fire and public works equipment and meeting space that will also be available for event rental by the public.

The third question asked voters to ratify a $7.9 million bond ordinance that will fund the construction of a municipal complex through a tax increase. The complex will be over 14,000 square feet and will replace the fire house and police/first aid buildings lost to Sandy. It will include an extra bay for equipment storage and have space on the second floor that will allow for the relocation of all borough administration functions and records storage.

The third question tallied 345 "yes" votes and 151 "no" votes.

There were 14 total write in votes and 8 provisional votes cast in the special election; not enough to change the outcome on Tuesday.

FEMA and insurance and the borough's beach access fund will cover over half the cost of the two buildings, leaving about a $5.3 million cost for the municipality.

The tax impact on the owner of an average home in the borough valued at $500,000 would be an increase of $250 on their tax bill to help fund the cost of the two buildings project at their projected costs.

However, Councilman Brian Kelly has said that if the newly-implemented paid parking and temporary cell tower can generate $225,000 in annually, when the debt services for the projects begins between 2019-20, that would lower the tax burden to a $43.33 increase for the owner of a home valued at $500,000. As of Sept. 6, the paid parking revenue for the borough was $222,000 and the cell tower revenue is $34,000 annually, per the borough's contract with Verizon.

Councilman Marc Leckstein said he was happy to see the bond ordinances move forward.

"I'm just speechless right now," Leckstein said. "It's a great day for Sea Bright."

The plans for both facilities must first be finalized before they can go out to bid. The council has discussed the possibility of having another architect look at the plans to see if there can be any further cost savings for the borough.

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