Officials said that the high cost of rebuilding from Hurricane Sandy could drive coastal residents inland, potentially helping bolster the township's decreased ratable base should they decide to call Manchester home.
With some coastal residents facing the reality of paying tens of thousands of dollars to rebuild and raise their homes — as well as increases in flood insurance rates — an inland community like Manchester may be a good alternative, said Township Council Vice President Brendan Weiner Monday evening.
"It's almost impossible for some of these folks to rebuild," he said. "They may say, 'we want to live close to the coast — let's check out Manchester.'"
After the 2013 reassessment, the township's total taxable value decreased by more than 18 percent from $3.9 billion to $3.2 billion. Most of the residents in Manchester who do not live in senior communities will see an increase in taxes later this year, despite the fact that the values on their homes have actually dropped, according to officials.
"I'm telling all of my friends in Toms River who have friends who lost houses to check out Manchester," Weiner said.
At the council's last meeting, residents spoke out against the tax increases. Again Monday, some residents expressed their concerns.
"I can give you a year," said Pine Lake Park resident Josh Langenberger, indicating that he cannot continue to live in the township much longer if taxes continue to increase. "That's about all I have left."
Council President Craig Wallis said that state funding inequities are a problem, as Manchester receives less aid than other municipalities because of its large senior population. Wallis said that he is spearheading an effort to have the state reconsider the distribution of aid.
Drawing residents and commercial developments to Manchester is something that could help improve the ratable base, the council said.
Councilman Sam Fusaro said that senior village trustees realize that home values in their communities have plummeted. Some are working to improve the homes and make them more attractive to potential buyers.
An apartment complex and proposed Super Malmart — should it be allowed to proceed by courts — could draw revenues to the township.
"Those two ratables would help alleviate the situation," said Councilman James Vaccaro, the former chairman of the township's planning board, who has championed the idea of finding ways to draw business to the township.
Attracting commercial development to the township is difficult, given the Coastal Areas Facilities Act and Pinelands Commission regulations in effect for much of Manchester's open land. But the council said they continue to search for answers.
"We will look at every possible way to change the structure of Manchester," Fusaro said.
Last meeting, township officials said they are courting other revenue streams to offset taxes. Manchester officials authorized a resolution then that would enable them to go out to bid for a leased 750-foot cell phone tower, to be constructed on township-owned property in the Roosevelt City section of town.