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Sea Bright Now Proposes 3-Cent Tax Increase

SEA BRIGHT: With not nearly as much grant money as originally planned, the borough’s budget will instead use surplus and see a tax rate increase as revenue to fund the $8.99 million budget.

Borough Council introduced an amended budget, after learning that a Community Development Block Grant for Essential Services, to aid Sea Bright after the impact of Hurricane Sandy, would be $1.002 million, or about $777,000 less than what the borough had applied for.

The amended budget calls for a 3-cent tax increase, to $0.802 per $100 of assessed property. The original budget, introduced in spring, had a $0.772 tax rate, and was a $9.121 million budget. The tax increase means total amount to be raised by taxes is up about $139,000, to a total $3.749 million.

Sea Bright Chief Financial Officer Michael Bascom said that though the borough was awarded less of a CDBG award than it applied for, it still received the maximum amount it qualified for.

“We did not qualify for all that we asked for,” Bascom said, adding that the state required the grant money to fund activity directly related to Hurricane Sandy recovery, for example having Sea Bright itemize how much its budget was impacted by tax ratables destroyed by the storm. “When they ran the numbers, it was less.”

Sea Bright was not the only municipality whose final award was less than the original applied for. The grants are to help stabilize budgets made unstable by Sandy’s devastation, Bascom said, but “over time they want us to recover, and not be dependent on state and federal aid year after year after year.”

Sea Bright will use $420,000 of its surplus, where it originally budgeted zero surplus funds to fill its budget hole. Bascom said cuts were made to spending, to reduce the budget overall.

In addition, more grant money -- such as a $60,000 for zoning code enforcement from CDBG Disaster Recovery grant program and $16,221 for a Smart Growth Grant – was added to the borough’s revenue in the amended budget.

The amended budget has a public hearing scheduled, July 1. The council will met at 7 p.m. in borough hall to conduct its hearing, during the regularly scheduled Sea Bright Borough Council meeting.

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