Council OK’s Tax Hike for Brigantine

Brigantine Delucry
Councilman Rick Delucry

To the editor, from John and Bonnie Nikituk of Brigantine.

We were happy to hear the words of reality voiced by Brigantine councilman DeLucry at the March 16 council meeting, but we were very disappointed to hear that none of the three ‘scenarios’ brought forth by the town manager included an option for cutting existing positions or salaries – the largest portion of the budget. And so there was no scenario for a zero increase in real estate taxes.

View the proposed 2013 Brigantine Budget:

Click to Download – proposed 2013 Brigantine Budget.

As a result of that failure to provide the hard facts of what needs to happen to get to zero, new focus needs to be placed on the reality of the situation and steps must be taken to reduce the budget in areas of employee compensation.

A 6.2-cent increase, as strongly supported by the Brigantine City Manager, is not acceptable, especially when it forwards debt to future years without really knowing the impact of near future years (2014 and 2015).


Our manager also stated that $458K in health benefit payments were not even in the budget and would be forwarded to 2014. So in 2014, we will have to pay 2014 health insurance costs plus an additional $458K brought forward from 2013. A move like that, coupled with the bond floated last year, will soon have Brigantine taxpayers looking at a deficit clock just like our federal government.

Brigantine can be better than that, but only by making those hard choices now. Franklin Township took a hard, honest look at their budget and actually lowered real estate taxes.The other ‘scenarios’ presented were a 2.2-cent increase and a 2.1-cent increase. All of those budget proposals fell short of a positive fiscal position for the City of Brigantine, and in turn for the residents and taxpayers of Brigantine.

In looking at the posting of salaries, we find excess in many areas. A town the size of Brigantine does not warrant the current pay rates posted in the Oct. 26, 2012 Beachcomber.

That salary list shows a Director of Recreation at $80K and a Deputy Director at $75K. One of those positions should be eliminated. The other should be discounted. This same scenario exists in many departments.

Brigantine City Manager; Jen Blumenthal

The city manager has an assistant manager at the pay rate of $80K. This position is not warranted, and if the workload of that department demands additional hours, those hours must be filled with position titles demanding a much lower rate of pay.

This same situation occurs throughout the Brigantine public employee ranks. There are eight police dispatchers (pay averaging $60K plus benefits and pensions) plus part-time hourly-rate dispatchers as well. Perhaps only having part-time dispatchers is an answer to some savings, because you do not have to pay the benefit package and that high pay rate. Central county dispatching should also be considered.

I understand much of the salary problems were caused by the former manager’s failures to effectively handle negotiations. Now, as a result of past practice, the hard decisions must be made and enacted for the good of all taxpayers.

It is unfortunate, but layoffs are necessary. Look at the country. Do Brigantine city employees believe that we are in a world separate from the fiscal woes of our times? Do they not understand that many of our citizens are currently unemployed due to the financial problems of our cities, states and country? Businesses have laid off workers in order to remain fiscally sound.

It is the council’s job to protect the fiscal health of the City of Brigantine in addition to the other protections and responsibilities of council. If taxes are raised, the City of Brigantine is causing the taxpayers undue hardship by continuing failures in financial responsibility.

Coucilman Pullella

The City of Brigantine will be undermining your personal budget by over-taxing because the hard decisions to move forward with pay reductions and/or layoffs were not made.

Cutting the budget through attrition is not enough. That ship sank a while ago. Attrition is a given. ‘Robbing Peter to pay Paul’ by borrowing into future years is only delaying the inevitable. You can’t spend what you don’t have.

The stress the residents have recently suffered because of Sandy is more than enough. Stress caused by city budgeting failures on its citizenry is unnecessary. The storm damage is already a financial burden on every homeowner that was hit.

Lisa Mc Clay, Brigantine
Councilwoman, Lisa McClay

The insurance companies do not cover the costs that are involved with bringing properties back from damaged states. Their insurance checks meant to cover repairs are reduced significantly by large deductibles, huge depreciation and exclusions of costly elements that are simply not covered in payments received.

That means thousands of dollars that those people, your neighbors, must somehow find. And the city now wants to increase their taxes.

I understand that the employees believe that the needed actions are not fair. Is it any less fair to impact the taxpayers again and again? Is it fair to impact those homeowners already beat down by the ravages of Hurricane Sandy?

The fact that the ‘preliminary’ budget presentation did not include cuts to the 170 Brigantine employees that have reaped generous benefits during the ‘good’ times, in favor of over-taxing and burdening thousands of taxpayers, is irresponsible and a failure to look at the big picture. It is nice to be popular with the employees, but not at the expense of those that you have been elected or hired to serve.

Some cuts to summer staffing were stated in the pre-budget presentation by the manager, but the real cuts must come from lines that have salary and benefit ties.

The remaining 70 percent of the taxpayers (the non-resident portion) pay the largest part of the taxes and use a minimal part of the services. We find the proposal to cut summer services an insult to those using very little out of the bloated budget. Our council and managers have to be smarter than that. They must make smart and difficult cuts to protect the city as a whole.

Please look at the fire department organizational chart. The chief is paid $140K. Four fire squads, each with a captain paid $124K-$134K each, two lieutenant positions being paid between $106K and $113K and four to five firefighters being paid salaries in the $90K range. Really!

Councilman Kern

We do support the continuing chief positions in all three areas of concern, but do not support the salaries attached to those positions. Chiefs in other towns of greater populations and responsibilities are not being paid at those rates. For example, Cherry Hill, a metropolis with a daytime population of 250,000 (as opposed to the 9,500 population in Brigantine) and large malls, major shopping, major highways cutting through its borders and many other factors creating significantly more responsibility, pays their chief $120K, a very nice stipend in these hard times.

And so, I propose that Brigantine chiefs’ salaries and all employee salaries be based on that type of information and paid at significantly lower salaries. And hear me – it is not just the fire department – the salaries attached to all of the positions in the town are out of line with other South Jersey public and private sectors.

The council was provided with demographic comparables for several other towns during the March 6 meeting. Those comparisons show that Brigantine does not equate with towns doing much more with much less.

You can make your own comparisons. Google “Wikipedia demographics (insert town name)” and press enter. Comparisons show that it is not only possible but necessary to make the needed cuts now.

Councilman Piccardi
Councilman Piccardi

Many people that lived in Brigantine have already been forced from their homes because of higher taxes caused by irresponsible actions of previous management.

By the way, why does Brigantine own a golf course? (in need of much capital repair) Sell that, too! A private-sector owner will be able to create a tourism generating company and it will pay taxes!

Don’t delay the inevitable any longer.

John and Bonnie Nikituk

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27 thoughts on “Council OK’s Tax Hike for Brigantine”

  1. Very well stated, Mr. & Mrs. Nikituk! Unfortunately, greed has caused the problems we are now faced with. You have common sense, and those in their city appointed positions cannot comprehend this because their judgement has been tainted. They only know their excessive salaries by way of very little work and they believe they are justified, and entitled.

    1. Hi Dee. I hope that enough representatives and administrators come to there senses and begin doing their jobs in the name of the good of ALL citizens and visitors of the great town of Brigantine. Did you write on the problem with the school Board and excesses there? If so, KUDOS to you as well. I am prepared to stand with those that are tired of the abuse.

  2. Well said Mr & Mrs Nikituk…..we are in the 70% that own a second home on the island and have owned for 10 years and love the island. Unfortunately we along with the other 70% have no say as to what goes on with the City, since we have no voting rights…does this fall into the category of taxation without representation? I think so. Did you know that for second home owners that had serious damage form Sandy that the State with all this Federal money..,not one penny will go towards helping that 70% out with their financial hardship of trying to repair their home. We will not have a home this year and possibly next year, because of the gap between insurance settlement and cost to rebuild. I don’t think that is fair for all second home owners up and down the coast. I am attempting to get a grass root movement going and go to the state and get some help for second home owners, since Governor Christie thinks they are so important to the shore economy…he is going to have to walk his talk and put up the money where his mouth is!

    1. Hi Ron…. That is always how I feel, with regards to “no representation”… It’s why we left England. Please keep me informed of your movement in support of 2nd Homeowners with our Governor.

  3. Patricia Armitage

    Very well said John and Bonnie. I thank you for your insightful and thoughtful analysis of the fiscal woes in Brigantine. Like other commenters, my husband and I own a second home in Brigantine who are voiceless about any of these issues in this lovely town. We are grateful to have full-time residents like you who speak for those who pay property taxes but who do not enjoy voicing our opinions at the polls in Brigantine.

    1. Thank you for your support Pat, but we are not voters either. We do not have voting rights but believe if the 70% came to a meeting in full force, the town may be forced to react to the “town rateables”. I also believe that many of the 70% are not aware of the EXCESS and waste and abuse that is approved and taken by a small number. … OR perhaps a TAX strike by the 70%… That would fix them. LOL

  4. All so well siad! I,too,have taxation without representation being a second home owner for the last 15 years in Brigantine. When I first saw the salaries for the police and firemen and now the city employees I was astounded. Philadelphia police and firemen make half of what those in Brigantine do and have a lot more dangerous job. The person who mentioned entitlement hit the nail on the head. Because you live on the island and belong to the “Boys Club” doesn’t mean you steal from the people who put the bread on your table. It seems the smart thing to do with a senior in high school in this crooked town is to send them to City Hall instead of college. Come on, Ms Blumenthal, I had hopes you were going to clean up this town. Looks as though you have been reeled in by the “big fish”.

    1. Yes, we also had hopes for Ms. BlumenthaI- a generously paid manager of a very small town ($120k)with an Asst. Director paid at $85,000. It seems that reality in Brigantine is just like the sands that flows off of our newly replenished beach that is AGAIN washing away… (BUT at least it isn’t PINK this time)

      1. Thanks Pennmom. What you say is very true. It is time for those in charge to come to their senses. Contact Anne Phillips of the Taxpayers Association 609-266-3227 to join this group. There is power in numbers. Anne has been fighting this battle alone for decades.

  5. Oh give me a break all you stupid sboobies that own a second home down here. Why do you need more than one house when I only will have one after after my lease is up. Idiots like you ruin everything for the true residents who live here year round. Maybe I should invest in a seasonal home in PA somewhere and act like I own that town.

    1. Perhaps you will lose your home to the excessive tax man Brina. I don’t believe anyone writing here is stupid… and we are far from your “shoobie” reference. This post is not a debate on your housing but investing in the Poconos might be a good investment move. I wish you well with your housing dilemma when your lease expires. Good Day! God Bless

    2. Patricia Armitage

      Brina, that is a totally uncalled for response. If the second homeowners were not paying taxes, you would not have any services. Just saying….

    3. You Don’t Own a home, Brina, so you don’t pay taxes. Therefore you have no right to be so nasty to the”shoobies who carry Brigantine which is by the way more Our Town since we pay for your inflated salaries.

      1. I will own a home out here. And as a full time resident I have more say than you, shoobie. Do us all a favor and stay home this summer.

        1. Even if you don’t OWN a home, you have more to say than we who pay taxes for you to enjoy Brigantine all year round, Brina. Isn’t America strange that way? We give and give and give… and some take and take and take and still have poor attitudes and hate towards the “payers”. We’ll all be there this summer Brina…to enjoy our beautiful homes, with smiles on our faces. I hope you learn to do the same. Enjoy your day, Brina.

    4. Brina you do need some therapy sessions. Your anger toward second home owners is ridiculous. Without these people Brigantine would be far less than it is. The 30% could never keep up the town. Respect is due the 70% and a note of appreciation.

      1. Yea it’s called Labor Day when you bossy idiots go home. You can’t change this city. if you don’t like it get a second home in ocean city. or live here full time. so shut up.

  6. Brig Resident III

    The answer is not getting rid of jobs. Everyone thinks that’s the first thing that should happen. You would all be singing a different tune if YOUR job were on the line, or if YOU were the one with a nice salary, you must not be so lets complain.

    If you are a second homeowner that is wonderful. But if you can afford not 1 but 2 homes, the price you pay for taxes isn’t that huge. Look at other towns that pay the same and have less services. True Brigantine people; either full time, part time or weekender….need to look at one thing, REVENUE.

    Brigantine needs to stop the “small tucked away island” thing….and get into the new age. You want Summer people to come to Brigantine, spend about $2,000 a week on a overpriced summer rental and then they have to take their families and drive 45 min if not more to go on a boardwalk, water park, real mini-golf courses etc.

    Instead of 4+ million dollars on a community center that isn’t even being used properly, or the money spent to buy land for “parking lots”.

    Lets get some family stuff on this island, we would be able to survive just like OC, Wildwood, Sea Side, etc. There is one overpriced arcade, one hill and grass mini-golf and nothing else. If you want people to come here, build stuff for the families to stay here. 4 or 5 pizza places aren’t gonna cut it.

    There’s no reason we couldn’t bring back the Brigantine Castle, Boardwalk with shops, etc.

    Salaries and Employees aren’t the issue. Do research on ANY town or city. Over 50% of their budget is salary with one exception… they have stuff to bring revenue into their towns.. WE DON’T.

  7. Wow, well said. Thank You for your insight on this critical issue facing Brigantine, which are salaries that are way out of line for a city this size. I too own a second home property in brigantine and feel taken advantage of by elected officials.
    I think we need to organize…
    Susan Schofield

    1. Good morning Susan…there is a Taxpayer Association that is headed by Anne Phillips. She has been fighting this gross abuse for many, many years. Her phone number is 609-266-3227 (it is in the book). Her e-mail is She welcomes new members. There is power in numbers.

  8. The more i read the more I get agitated to what is going on. I can’t believe the Fire Chief or Acting Fire Chief has been in the system for 32 years collecting over $150,000.000 Dollars. Yes fellow Tax payers 32 years collecting over $150,000.000 Dollars.. Sorry he needs to go to help unclog the system. And he has a Military Pension. on top of that. Very simple .. Bye Bye & Thank You for your Service Mr. Holl. And give a wave ( 32 times) .. No serious , it is time for him to leave with the others that can retire.. he needs to look deep down inside and say it is time to go..

    1. I like the 8- yes EIGHT Dispatchers getting over $60k plus benefits and sick accrual (the City could discontinue this ridiculous practice)…. Firefighters getting $96k…. Secretaries all make +$50k…. 10/26/12 Beachcomber published all the salaries…. OH and they all think they are being shorted… DISGUSTING…. and taxes are going up, Up, UP! Call Anne Phillips and join the Taxpayers Association! She’s in the phonebook. BTW- a lot of the Fire Department have their own businesses and do their paperwork on our dime…. They have one of those schedules- 3 days on and 4 days OFF- and then they under-cut other contractors prices cause they are already getting BIG FAT pay checks from us…. WHEN will it STOP? I heard- NO LAY-OFFS :{ Sorry to shout-off again BUT this is wrong in so many ways.

  9. Cutting Summer staff, ie Lifeguards, has got to be the one of the worst ideas in the history of worst ideas. They are already understaffed as it is. The lifeguards are the least paid beach patrol in the state of New Jersey and laying off/ firing some of them is safety concern for all who come to our island. They last thing you want is for you to be paying your taxes, beach badges and parking passes for your beach that you have been going to all your life, to be closed and unsupervised because the city is paying some 80k for someone to sit behind a desk.

    1. Yes, I guess beings the Mayors brother retired as Beach Patrol Chief… the loving feelings for that group has diminished. None of the reasoning for cuts to this group are legit- AND none of the reasons for NON-cuts and BIG salaries are legit for ALL the OTHER City Employees…..It’s almost like the lunatics are running the asylum :{ The Administration is obviously corrupt- it shows in the failure to make decisions based on simple economics and comparable salaries and staffing.

    2. Hi Wake-up
      Glad you at least get a vote….. BUT who the heck do you vote for. They all are lacking in the skills to make informed decisions….. BTW – There is NO JUSTIFICATION… simple graft and corruption and failure to perform duties.

  10. As a 25+ full time resident of Brigantine I can say that I agree completely with you about the inflated salaries of city workers. Unfortunately I do not see anything changing soon. I don’t understand why people are so blind about the ridiculous high salaries that the police, firefighters, and city employees are paid. As a college graduate, I have worked at jobs (plural because I have been laid off due to the economic issues we are having in this country) and was never paid as much as our secretaries for the city are. I would love to just file paperwork and answer the phone when I feel like it.
    I appreciate what the police and fireman do for our city. But comparing a salary of a brigantine police officer and a Philadelphia officer is just embarrassing. Philadelphia officers max out at 61k( Where is the justification of why we pay our officers so much?! And if Philadelphia is too far of a comparison look at AC- police make an average of 55k.
    And like Brina has stated, you will not be able to change this city because a majority of people who hold these jobs will only appoint or “suggest” someone they know for the next job opening.

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