Brigantine Approves Whopping 7% Tax Hike

brigantine beach signs
Land of Higher Taxes

Brigantine City Council voted to raise taxes by 7%. Huh? Are the recently elected Dems ignoring the NJ 2% property tax cap? Did they forget their campaign promise to cut city head count and stop raising taxes? 

This past Wednesday, the five Democratic members of council approved this jaw-dropping tax increase. The only two Republicans; Andy Simpson and Mayor Phil Guenther, opposed it. The Brigantine city unions and public employees likely smiled and breathed a sigh of relief.

We overheard many angry conversations while drinking coffee at the Macedonian Grill this week. Residents were under the impression that NJ had a 2 percent property tax cap in place. See 2% NJ Tax Cap info HERE.

Why so big a tax hike for Brigantine? While storm clean-up certainly played a role here, many complain that it’s the bloated employee expense and mis-management of our Brigantine assets like the beach, the golf course, proximity to Atlantic City, etc..

Brigantine employee expenses…. account for about 60% of the island’s municipal budget. That’s right. Think about that fun fact for a minute. Sixty cents out of every taxpayer dollar in Brigantine goes towards employees, unions, benefits and pensions. 60% !

Council has yet to fulfill their promise to ‘right-size’ our city employment roles. As of today, still no lay-offs. Still no furloughs. Still no pay-cuts. Just a crazy 7% tax increase.

Special thanks to 2nd homeowners of Brigantine (70% of residents)…that contribute most to this massive 7% tax hike.

That’s right, Brigantine City Council did what they do best. They once again pulled the trigger on raising taxes. They know that almost 3/4 of local taxpayers will just blindly pay it. These so-called ‘70%-ers’ can’t make a fuss. They can’t do anything about it because they can’t vote. Indeed, it’s a fiendishly evil plan to fund the Brigantine revenue coffers and overpay the city employees. 2011 Brigantine Employee Salaries

Brigantine full-time residents are even more angry. Most can only afford ONE home. The pain is much more intense for these Brigantiners. A growing number of Brigantine full-timers are being forced to pack up and leave. Full time Brigantine residents get hurt the most when out of control spending and Greenhead Politics continue to thrive in Brigantine.

As of today, there are 523 homes for sale in Brigantine. That’s a lot of housing inventory for such a small island. That’s a big number when you consider coastal communities to the north that got brutally storm battered and became less attractive to vacation home buyers. One would think Brigantine real estate would be record breaking this season. It should be since Brigantine is one of the most beautiful towns along the Jersey shore. Our vacation homes and tourism attractions are virtually back to 100%.

Situated right next to Atlantic City should make Brigantine even more valuable. But Brigantine’s high taxes and lack of tourism marketing has really hurt. News media continue to tell the world we’re still storm damaged and may not be ready for Summer visitors. We still wonder why The Brigantine Chamber of Commerce does virtually nothing to promote our island to outsiders.

This is wrong on so many levels. Why allow a small handful to get away with this? There’s no one to blame but ourselves. We let it happen.

Are you kidding me? A 7% tax increase….. with no layoffs? No furloughs? No cut backs?

Make sure you thank our Democratic council members the next time you see em’. We all gotta get one of them jobs at Brigantine City Hall…. pretty sweet deal. Awesome pensions too!

BB-NJ Brigantine Beach City Hall Taxes

WATCH VIDEO. Brigantine councilman Frank Kern promises NO MORE tax and spend.

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42 thoughts on “Brigantine Approves Whopping 7% Tax Hike”

    1. What can we do to correct this? Vote out the democratic majority of City Council. They ran on no taxes – “Tired of Tax and Hire? ” That was their billboard slogan. They did nothing to cut the budget and make it more in line with last year. Why? Because they say that the previous members of council did not allow for enough surplus. So they decided to collect additional taxes from home owners and businesses this year so they would have a larger surplus than necessary so next year when there is a new election they will adjust taxes down. This is truly a manipulation of the tax payers. This should not be a game. Many of the residents have been confronted with high repair costs due to the damage from Super storm Sandy. Council Simpson and Mayor Guenther recommended on taking the unnecessary burden of increase taxes off the homeowners this year. This was rejected unanimously by the rest of City Council. The Democratic leadership states that the professionals recommended this budget? BALDERDASH! Councilman Pulella controls the professionals. The professionals want to keep their jobs!
      Come out for elections next year, we need to keep Mayor Guenther and Councilman Simpson. There are three seats up for election next year, the Mayoral seat and the two Councilman-at-Large seats.
      Make your voices heard where it counts. Don’t forget about their Dog & Pony show when election time comes around.
      They do not have the knowledge, experience, and empathy for the taxpayers.

    2. Feed up with all the political BS. Once the foreclosures come in, who will be left to pay that, your vacationers?

  1. Taxed to Death

    What happened to the State law that capped property tax increases at 2% ???
    Does that not apply here ??

    1. Bonnie Nikituk

      http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/07/gov_christie_signs_2_percent_p.html
      Found the above info about the 2% hike… I’m not sure whether it applies BUT it seems that calls to the Governor (who is up for re-election) are in order- so EVEN if you are in the 70%- YOUR new jersey vote counts for the Governor- …. email him at- http://www.state.nj.us/governor/contact/ or phone to 609-292-6000 … It may take some action on our part BUT the time has come to be involved in our government on ALL levels.

  2. Jesse Alberts

    I suppose my family falls into the 70%’s but we have paid every and all tax for almost 60 years this is crazy! Who is running this city and why are you other 30% allowing this to go on? Have any of you taken a business class or heard of diminishing returns? The facts are right there in black and white.

    Realtor.com states that there are 523 properties for sale at the moment. Zillow.com looks like it has acne with all the red dots “houses for sale”. What does city council think will happen? it is quite Obvious as to what will happen, more houses are going to go up for sale and banks are going to take more properties.

    Have you heard of less is more? Lower taxes more people will buy there giving the city a larger income. Here is a fact that I think most people forget. In the United States of America the Government works for the PEOPLE not the other way around!

    Brigantine has to stand as a united front and tell City Council that this will not be excepted and not just on facebook go to City Hall and demand answers. I for one will be down this weekend demanding answers.

    And this 30% 70% stuff is just weird we all love the island! It should be the .03% or what ever percentage the city council consist of that we argue with.

    1. If council would stop raising taxes in anticipation of more tax appeals, there would be less tax appeals. The tax appeals are partially a result of raising taxes every year since the last revaluation. It is a self fulfilling prophecy.

      In addition there are less vacation home owners willing to purchase property because they can go to other islands and pay very little in taxes for example : Long beach Island, Longport, Avalon, Stone Harbor, Ocean City as well as all the Delaware Beaches.I can’t do it alone. I have gone to every council meeting and given my opinion against a tax increase. There should be no tax increase so taxpayers can recover from Super Storm Sandy. Everyone is still making repairs. There are still displaced people and very few rental properties available.

      Unfortunately the Democratic Council has peppered the audience with their supporters including The Taxpayers Association to encourage the vote for a 7% tax increase. They are very smooth politicians, they make it sound good so you buy their philosophy.

      They ran for office against tax and hire. They are recommending a new position before cutting any positions. Let’s encourage them to cut something first before adding personnel. Please come to the Council Meetings and voice your opinion.

  3. Brigantine Taxpayer

    Higher taxes pushes people out of Brigantine. Higher taxes depress market value of all homes. This is how “Brigantine Insiders” buy up properties on the cheap.

  4. I made a few calls. Div of Taxation: 292-6400. They did not know about it. They sent me to Property Tax: 292-7975. They did not know about it. They sent me to Diane Gryer: 943-4401. Still waiting to hear back.

    Gov Christie says when the cap was created , he and State Senate President Steve Sweeny only allowed for 3 exceptions – public debt payments, health benefits and pension costs – “but we knew there would be inventive local officials who would try to find ways around it, and we’ve now started to see that manifest itself – so he and I made a commitment before to each other – but we renewed it again on the phone this morning – that we’re going to plug those loopholes – we’re going to do it together.”

    I would write to the Brigantine City Council members who voted this in….. and not re-elect them.

    It might be time for some Republican leadership! Can you fire council members?

    Here is a link that might be of some use. http://nj1015.com/tags/2-property-tax-cap/

    Bottom line don’t stand for it. Take some action!

  5. Here is the list of people to call and email..

    Philip J. Guenther, Mayor
    pguenther@brigantinebeachnj.com

    Frank Kern
    Councilman-at-Large
    (609) 266-7600 ext. 321

    fkern@brigantinebeachnj.com
    Andrew Simpson Councilman – Ward 1
    (609) 266-7600 ext. 322
    asimpson@brigantinebeachnj.com

    Joe Picardi
    (609) 266-7600 ext. 324
    jpicardi@brigantinebeach.com

    Tony Pullella
    Councilman-at-Large
    (609) 266-7600 ext. 320
    tpullella@brigantinebeachnj.com

    Lisa McClay, Ward 2 Council
    (609) 266-7600
    lmmclay@brigantinebeachnj.com

    Rick DeLucry
    Councilman – Ward 4
    (609) 266-7600 ext. 325
    rdelucry@brigantinebeachnj.com

    City Manager
    Jennifer Blumenthal
    (609) 266-7600, ext. 212
    jblumenthal@brigantinebeachnj.com

  6. High taxes absolutely keep people out of Brigantine. But that seems to be the trend in all of the So Jersey shores town. It’s getting to the point where it’s for all the rich folks and the middle class can’t afford it.

    My dream was always to retire and move to Brigantine but that was not to be so I relocated to Florida and have a very nice place with reasonable real estate taxes which will be even better after I qualify for homesteading.

    Shame on you Jersey shore for what you are doing!

  7. Diane Settefrati

    Of course higher taxes are going to have residents sell and move. That will result in more houses on the market, lower property values, and in the end less revenue. I say it is time to bring in Republican Leadership, or hold classes on Economics 101 at the meetings. Maybe they should take a look at making some cuts.

  8. Read up on the history of Asbury Park, NJ; that is the direction our island politics are putting us in! What a way to turn our beautiful island into a slumland!!

    Shame on them!!

  9. 50+ Yearround Resident

    To the 70%…..Life long locals with only 1 house like myself hold multiple jobs to be able to live where we grew up, we are becoming less and less. Sorry, tough to feel sorry for those with multiple houses. To those with SECOND homes the solution is simple, make this your primary residence and VOTE and at the same time be THANKFUL you are in a position where you can have MORE than 1 house/residence.

    1. Elizabeth Komins

      I am grateful every day of my life that we have a second home. Brigantine should do what some other Jersey Shore towns have done and repeal the “taxation without representation” treatment of second home owners! You don’t need to feel sorry for second home owners, but you should be concerned that a couple like us, who just retired, decided not to make this our primary residence. You know why we decided this?
      Because the taxes here are already ridiculous. We can’t afford the taxes here. We have a 4 bedroom, 2 story single house, on an acre of land, with an in-law suite (for my parents) and a full basement in the PA Philly suburbs. The taxes on our 3 bedroom, attached townhouse in Brigantine is more!

    2. Johnny Wishbone

      70%’ers have no say. Why would you 50+ year rounder go and want your taxes raised????? Thats right the shoobies as you call us have no say. Shame you islanders allow yourselves to get taxed off and hold multi jobs to afford to live there. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT THEN!!! VOTE THESE SLOBS OFF THE ISLAND YOU HOLD SO DEAR TO YOUR HEART!

  10. Veronica McEvoy

    A big disappointment that the Democratic Council who campaigned for lower spending and lower taxes, are now increasing our taxes.

    The economic stress that families are under due to Hurricane Sandy was completely ignored by our Democratic Council.

    The latest political advertisement in The Beachcomber states how 7% was not ideal for the taxpayers and then blaming the increase on past decision by former councils is shameless. Again taking no responsibility for their own votes and actions and blaming it on others.

    National Democratic tactics and deception have now reached the local level.

  11. Taxed to Death

    Register your complaint with the Governor. Go to http://www.nj.gov, taxation, contact us and then send your message via their email, phone or regular mail.
    Asked what happened to the 2% cap?

  12. To Brigantine City Council- (we know you read this site) The video above is absolutely disgusting. The tax INCREASE is even more disgusting. The Council is obviously inept and so is the Manager and the entire Administration.

    The Staff and Salaries are BLOATED. I WILL be contacting the Governors office. Lay-offs are REQUIRED! The budget must be cut! STOP borrowing money to pay the bills.

    You are forcing residents to move from their homes because they cannot afford to live in their OWN homes- YOU have NO PITY for these people YET you continue to pay the (? 180) employees RIDICULOUS salaries and benefits.

    Is anyone on Council responsible for a personal or business budget? Would you handle YOUR finances in this manner? You were elected to be fiscally smart with our money. YOU all were hired on a TAX Cutting, Salary/employee CUTTING platform. Your performance is sickening. Your maneuvering to look good in the next election year is not going to work.

    STAND up now and fix your errors. Lay-off NOW! ….. You ALL Stink! Dems & Reps alike. Your failure to successfully complete the work as you promised will cause a BIG financial hardship for many citizens that YOU swore to protect. Shame, shame, shame.

    1. Johnny Wishbone

      Agree, you should all be ashamed of yourselves! Who knew the second hurricane was coming? Taking advantage of a disaster to line your pockets make me sick! The system is broken people!

  13. Brig Tax & Spender

    Remember…

    The Brigantine School Board just approved a 2 percent tax increase over last year.

    They also plan to hire a new school superintendent with a salary of $117,500, as well pay for two principals (elementary & middle school at approx $100k each), a curriculum administrator and a business administrator.

    Anne Phillips; the Patron Saint of Brigantine Taxpayers, wondered why we need five high paid administrators …..as student population continues to decline.

    Some new expenses for district include: new computer lab, new van to replace damaged one, a $760,000 upgrade school security system and $30k to replace five Smartboards.

    Student enrollment has slipped to 756 regular students.

  14. Preparing for TAX APPEAL in 2014

    I did NOT appeal our taxes THIS year…. with the NEW exorbitant increase- we WILL be appealing next year- and so the the problem will go on and on and on UNTIL the SALARIES, BENEFITS and NUMBERS of STAFF are DECREASED! That is where the problem exists. This will continue and WORSEN until the Council and Management (and employees too) FACE the FACT and make the hard decisions required to run the City of Brigantine in a fiscally responsible manner. The PARTY is over. It is time to do what is necessary for the good of the majority, instead of the few. PLEASE post your dismay- make our voices heard.

  15. 50+ Yearround Resident

    I don’t believe layoffs are the answer, maybe downsizing through attrition, but not layoffs. These are real people with families to support. If the level of service can stay the same (or maybe even a little less) with less people, maybe that should be looked at. But think, do YOU want to wait extra time for Police or Ambulance service to save a few dollars? Surrounding towns such as Galloway & Hamilton now make you fill out a Police report on line or through a kiosk for non serious crimes where a report is needed due to manpower losses. Both the Police & Fire Departments do plenty of “public service” type things that are not in the scope of their job description. Can you live without that? Can you live with waiting for an ambulance from another city because the Fire Department was cut back and all ambulances are in use when you need one? The Tax Office, The Court, and Public Works have all lost people in recent years that have not been replaced. Attrition can work, as long as you don’t mind waiting longer for services.

    1. NOT Kidding about Brigantine

      Dear 50+ ….although I believe you think your supportive statements are reality, I know that this government staffing is BLOATED and there are alternative solutions to raising taxes.

      Someone wrote an editorial and demonstrated Brigantine staffing in relation to many MUCH BIGGER cities with actual commerce going on (towns with huge populations and Wal-marts, large shopping plazas, Food chains galore, thru traffic- not Barrier island, etc.- you get the picture right?). Those towns are doing the job with smaller staffs. The population of Brigantine does NOT warrant the current staffing- PLAIN & SIMPLE!

      It’s common knowledge. Many Brigantine employees also run substantial businesses on the side, while being employed by the city (doing paperwork and phone calls, etc.) while being paid by the Tax dollars. There are 8 Fire Lieutenants- EIGHT of them! There is a Director of “Entertainment” at $80k+ and an Asst Director of “Entertainment” at $75k+, dispatchers (?15? at $68k)….

      C’mon 50++ haven’t you been reading?…. BTW the REST of the Town has REAL families too…. and many of them have been laid off from their jobs. AND now they have to deal with lower incomes, hurricane damage, AND substantially higher TAXES.. I know… it’s a shame that LAY-OFFs are REQUIRED to maintain our towns finances WITHOUT borrowing money from future years… but that is a FACT!

      Attrition is also a MUST but attrition alone will not get the “house in order”. We were Promised fiscal responsibility. AND with reduced staffs, our services should NOT suffer unless people merely want to make a point. They will have to work harder for the money… just like everyone else. ….Just like I’m sure you did, 50++- back in “the day”.

      OH and on ambulance service- many larger towns rely on volunteer services and nobody is dying because the ambulance didn’t get there. Or sub-contract ambulance services and get rid of that part entirely. The Private sector would be happy to set-up shop and replace the ambulances… then volunteer EMTs could supplement (if they wanted to- if not, that’s good too).. YOUR services will remain the same with less staff, as long as they understand that “they” work for the town that they love… not Vice Versa. Thanks for reading… THE END

      1. 50+ Yearround Resident

        OF COURSE everyone is entitled to their opinion, so I will only comment on things I KNOW about.

        Only 1 dispatcher is making the salary you mentioned, the other 8 full time dispatchers are not, neither are the 6 part time dispatchers that eliminate overtime when people go on vacation, are out sick, etc.

        Most if not all volunteer ambulance squads in this area have gone to paid staffing, as the days of volunteers being available are gone, there was too much liability in people waiting 15-20 minutes for an ambulance from another City (FACT).

        If people ARE conducting personal business are City time, yes that is something that should be addressed through City Administration. That is the first time I have ever heard of that allegation. Also I AM STILL working hard for the money with two jobs in the hopes of being able to keep my house, not just “back in the day”. My point is people shouldn’t be punished because of what they were promised 10-20 years ago, but new employees should be aware that the same situation cannot continue in this day & age.

        Obviously things have changed, I hope the taxation situation does too. This situation did not happen overnight, nor will it be corrected overnight.

        1. Not Kidding About Brigantine

          The “employees running businesses” during work hours is common knowledge. I learned of it thru several reliable sources. It is not just ONE person… it is many.

          Dispatchers can be replaced with Central Dispatch. You stated that salary info for Dispatchers was incorrect…. What is YOUR opinion on the Recreation Director’s salary (? $80k) and the fact that there is also an Asst Director at $75k???? Seems like wasteful spending to me…..It seems that you know that something MUST be done- but you squash each proposal set forth in favor of status quo for employees.

          Until that problem is corrected, nothing will change… so I suggest that YOU get job number 3 to pay Brigantine salaries. You are a nice person… making true business decisions does NOT make you “less nice”.

          1. 50+ Yearround Resident

            WHAT Central Dispatch???? None exists in Atlantic County. It has been talked about & planned since 1998 or so, and the municipalities apparently are not interested. My opinion on Recreation Department salaries? The truth is, I do not know enough about their job duties, how long they have been employees, etc to form an intelligent opinion. And thanks for your suggestion, but 2 jobs is enough. Also the truth is, you don’t know me, I AM NOT a nice person, but I am intelligent enough to be civil since this is a moderated board.

      2. A REAL Resident

        Dear NOT Kidding about Brigantine, lets let some FACTS straight, #1 there are 9 full time a 5 part time dispatchers, not 15 at 68k. The 9 full timers have a cap of $60,371 (and that’s fact, right from a contract) the other 5 part timers, if they aren’t working or covering shifts they cost the City $0 ZERO dollars.

        The dispatchers that you want to all the sudden throw under the bus are the ones that answer the calls for you 24/7 365 days a year, the are also the ones that will give you CPR instructions and get you what you need in 4-5 min. Also you want to rip on the fire dept, the same men that would run into your burning home in 4-5 min and save you from death, same fireman that are also our EMT’s that again would be there in 4-5 min to save you or a loved ones life. Try moving on the other side of the bridge, where you can wait 15-20 min if not LONGER all while paying more taxes then on this Island.

        Also here is a fun TRUE fact for you, it costs each resident $1.15 a day and for that they get a Police Department, Dispatch Department, Records Department, and also Crossing guards, that $1.15 is less then a cup of WAWA coffee, are you really that cheap or your life that meaningless that you are worried about $1.15 for ALL those employees!

        I don’t know about you, but when I figure out my new tax rate, it amazingly only went up $118.00 a year! If that is going to break your bank, consider moving (and that goes for anyone else complaining) I will happily pay that i’d pay double and triple that to know that when I pick up the phone and call 9-1-1 there is going to be someone on the other end that cares about me and will send me the help I need in 4-5 min!

        Grow up people, it’s only $$ ya can’t take it with you when you die, everyone wants to make money that is why so many of you bought 2nd and maybe 3rd or more homes, in the hopes that the market kept growing and you could sell that home you bought cheap for 4 times what you paid, market crashes and now it is City of Brigantines fault and all their employees!

        Spend less time in front of a computer crying, and more time thanking the men & women that are here to serve us ALL!!!!!

        1. Not Kidding in Brigantine

          Dear Real Resident, Thanks for your information…..but nobody is “throwing” anyone under a bus here.

          $60k for a dispatcher is STILL not in keeping with salaries in other much busier towns…. so THAT is the point. You have obviously caused Council with your Bus-throwing comments.to make unwise decisions that affect everyone in significant ways other than your running into burning building – scare tactic talk.

          My whole family is very well trained in CPR- perhaps that is something that all families should know instead of being held hostage by these scare tactics. If the employees of Brigantine are paid salaries more in keeping with larger towns with much more activity will we then be LESS SAFE? Will those employees that you want us to applaud each and every day, NOT do the same job for less- just like the rest of the country is having to do?

          I would sure like to know where you came up with the $1.15/day- seems like union rhetoric to me….. and although YOUR increase is $118 (on top of your current tax bill of ?$) mine is much greater than that on top of a huge Tax already…and for many that are struggling with jobs & businesses, horrific storm damage and other factors of these times, the Tax increase is crippling- and many people that have lived here all their lives are having to move- do they not deserve the same compassion as the OVER paid employees?

          Nobody is saying that employees here do not do a good job. THAT is expected from public employees, so maybe you should get off THAT soapbox and look at the situation from a financial one….. The people that are upset because of TAXES here CAUSED by irrational salaries may have other bills to pay besides Brigantine Taxes.

          This is a public forum- so if information/ comments are given, it is not personal…. so telling people to MOVE all the time is ridiculous. and this part IS PERSONAL: I will spend less time behind my computer crying when YOU Spend less time looking for praise all the time and more time doing your job and having compassion for the REST of then population!

        2. If it costs $1.15 per day and it would be reasonable for it to cost less then it should be done.

          Since the age of technology and due to inventions like the I phone, e mail, google etc I can do my job in half the time that it use to take.

          I think the City Government should encourage the use of technology in particular: e mail; forms on line – there will be a much more efficient work force. All of this should be able to be accessed from the city web site.

          Educate the employees and the public. Publish all employees e mails in the paper and encourage the public to contact the city in this way.
          If it is true that there are many retirements coming up on budgeted salaries, the staffing should reduce itself, as long as there are no new administrative positions created.

  16. My idea…lets build some support around those that do have voting rights. Lets start an initiative whereby 70% seek out and pair up with the 30% voters to oust those that went back on their word and continue down the path of least resistance, tax and spend.

    If the salary chart is correct, it seems absurd to me.

    I know its hard to cut your “friends and neighbors” and I all for a “livable wage” but something has to change.

    I’m inspired to start the groundswell of 70%, lets be creative and stop this nonsense in its tracks…who’s in?

    We need people that truly care and we need a place to meet…suggestions.

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