From Brigantine City Manager; Jennifer Blumenthal: The 2013 summer season is behind us and the new budget year is beginning. The community is still struggling with unemployment and underemployment. In addition, many are still rebuilding from Superstorm Sandy.
I recently spoke to the Brigantine Tax Association and heard concerns of the community. The taxpayers are feeling pressure with lower assessments on their properties coupled with rising taxes. People are now living with less income with a higher cost of government.
It is true that government runs counter to the market, which is different than most industries. In depressed economies people rely more on government for EMS, recreation, police and maintenance. The City has been doing more with less. The economy and Superstorm Sandy continues to put a strain on City operations. Departments are working with the same and less staff with more work.
Last year council instructed me and my management staff to heed the auditor’s financial assessment of the budget. Over 60 percent of the operating budget is employee expenses. Over the last year the City implemented cuts that will save the taxpayers more than $600,000 annually. We continued to work on additional savings through reorganization and contract negotiations coupled with additional revenue enhancements beyond taxes.
What we face in 2014 is increases in pension expense from prior years, costs associated with Superstorm Sandy, tax appeals and revaluation, decreases in assessed values of properties, the reduction in 2013 revenue from tax appeals, and supplementing the golf course utility. We are currently compiling 2013 budget figures but will not know the firm amounts until the year’s end when the final revenue and expense information is known. Current projections are showing a few million dollars to maintain operations.
It is most important to find more efficiency to support a stable budget for 2014 and future years. You can reach me at (609) 266-7600 ext 212 or JBlumenthal@BrigantineBeachNJ.com with any questions and concerns.