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Sea Bright Special Election Questions Outlined

SEA BRIGHT: The borough council has officially set the date for a special election on a bond referendum at Tuesday Sept. 27 from 6 a.m.-8 p.m.

The council passed a resolution authorizing the referendum during its Aug. 2 meeting and also outlined the three questions that shall be put forth to voters next month.

Sea Bright residents will be asked they support three bond ordinances totaling nearly $13 million that would fund a new municipal building and beach pavilion.

The bond referendum requires a petition that must be signed by at least 15 percent of residents who voted in last year's general election which equates to about 45 signatures. The petition garnered over 60 signatures and was received by the borough on June 23.

Before the petition was filed, the next step was for the borough to finalize the plans for the buildings and go out to bid for their construction, however that process is now on hold until the conclusion of the special election.

The first question on the special election ballot will ask voters if they support a $1.4 million bond ordinance for the construction of a community center and the second will ask if they support a $3.6 million bond appropriation for the building of a new beach utility.

Both questions must 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 borrowing for the $1.4 million bond will be repaid by taxes and the borrowing for $3.6 million is "anticipated to be fully repaid by revenues of the Beach Utility from beach user fees."

The third question will ask voters to ratify a $7.9 million bond ordinance that would 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.

FEMA and insurance and the borough's beach access fund will cover roughly half the cost of the two buildings, leaving about a $7.3 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. Councilman Brian Kelly has said that if the newly-implemented paid parking generates $125,000, when the debt services for the projects begins between 2019-20, that would lower the tax burden to a $172 increase for the owner of an average home.

Some borough residents at the Aug. 2 meeting continued to speak out against the project, asking for more clarity on the financing numbers presented to the public. Resident Jean Kingman said she still felt the buildings are too large and expensive.

"You can have buildings, but you don't need to have palaces," Kingman said.

The borough council will hold special information sessions about the special election that will be open to the public on the following dates at Sea Bright Borough Hall:

• Tuesday, Aug. 23, 7 p.m.

• Saturday, Aug. 27, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

• Wednesday, Sept. 7, 4 p.m.-7 p.m.

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