15 Sep 2014
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Council Introduces Budget Just Shy of $70 Million

The introduced budget is slightly smaller than the budget proposed last month.

Council Introduces Budget Just Shy of $70 Million
Upon introduction Thursday night, the 2014 municipal budget for Ocean City shrank by about $2 million, but the local tax rate and the tax levy increased from the previous year.

Ocean City Council introduced a $69,775,684.60 budget at its meeting Thursday night at the library. The budget is down from $71,983,050.55 from last year and the $72 million budget Mayor Jay Gillian proposed earlier this year.

The tax rate is up 1.46 cents from last year, and the tax levy increased 2.57 percent, up to $44,793,202.78 from $43,672,664.48 from last year.

The levy in the proposed budget was 2.89 percent.

An Ocean City home assessed at $500,000 would see an annual increase of $73.

On Wednesday night, t he school district proposed a tax levy increase totaling 1.85 percent. The school budget has not yet been introduced.

Cape May County also approved a tax increase in this year's adopted budget.

Ocean City is still recovering from the economic downturn of 2005 and the loss of ratables since Superstorm Sandy hit the state in 2012.

The city lost $135 million in ratables last year. It lost $800 million each of the previous two years, according to Chief Financial Officer Frank Donato.

Tax appeals have steadily decreased over last few years, as well. The city saw over 800 tax appeals in 2011 and 2012, and 200 in 2013.

With a week to go before the deadline this year, the city has seen just 30-35 appeals after conducting compliance evaluations for homes each of the last three years. Donato said the city evaluated homes pre-emptively so it didn’t have to conduct a revaluation of the whole city at once. Doing so would cost about $1.5 million, Donato said.

The city also had to set aside more for overtime public works employees who cleared the roads following the numerous snow storms this winter.

The budget was trimmed from the time it was proposed to introduction due to a decrease in capital projects and grants.

Last year, the city spent $2 million on the library building expansion. Donato said the amount of grant funding from the state fluctuates each year.

The city remains $432,000 under the 2 percent levy cap.

Earlier in the meeting, voted to set aside money from this year’s budget and establish a cap for the next two years.

The public hearing on the budget is scheduled for April 24.

Residents can view a copy of the budget in full on the city's website.

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