Tough Love for Brigantine: Schools, Business and Real Estate Trends in 2018.

simpson guenther brigantine
Councilman Simpson & Mayor Guenther

Brigantine Taxpayers Association (BTA) has penned another open letter to the residents of Brigantine. The BTA asked: What’s Ahead for Brigantine?

Let’s take a look at some of the current trends in Brigantine, as influenced by the BTA’s recent letter.

The residential population of Brigantine is in steady decline.

  • In 2000, Brig had a population of 12,594.
  • By 2010, the Brigantine population plummeted to 9,450.
  • The current, full-time population population of Brigantine is now less than 8,000.

Second-home owners make up the majority of home owners and taxpayers in Brigantine. This majority doesn’t vote, although they can, in certain circumstances.

Decline in Brigantine school enrollment. Hard to believe, Brigantine still has 2, fully-staffed schools. Many school positions could be shared between the 2 schools. Oddly, they are not. These 2 Brig schools were built to accommodate more than 1,200 students. Today, there’s only Brigantine 571 students, pre-k through grade 8.

Brigantine School Board controlled by Mayor Phil Guenther.

School board meetings are not recorded for the later viewing. Meeting agendas & meeting minutes are not posted to city website.

The number of Brigantine businesses are also in decline. Fewer able to operate and survive on a year-round basis. Many Brigantine businesses close during the winter months. Some reduce hours & days of operation. There’s just not enough full-time residents to support the year-round community.

Only the Real-Estate business benefit from the high percentage of second-home owners in Brigantine.

Brigantine’s municipal budget, public employees and full-time residents benefit greatly, from the high property taxes paid primarily by part-time / 2nd home-owners.

Can Brigantine attract more full-time residents? If not, the City’s economic base will continue to get squeezed. Businesses will cease to operate. New ones not likely to open.

As Brigantine Councilman Vince Sera noted: the ratables (taxes) that 2nd home-owners pay, are the economic engine of the Brigantine community. Tourism isn’t Brigantine’s top industry….it’s Real Estate taxes paid by 2nd homeowners (with no voting rights).

Why the population decline in Brigantine?

  • Boom-sale years before 2008 – many residents “cashed in” and left Brigantine.
  • 2008 recession
  • High property taxes and sale prices – forced owners to leave, and discouraged young families from buying in.
  • Casino closures
  • Damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, properties abandoned.

Is there light at the end of the tunnel? (pun-intended) Yes. Atlantic City’s economy is finally out of free-fall. AC job ops are growing and diversifying. There could be a possible spillover effect for Brigantine.

What can Brigantine do better?

  • Recognizing our island’s advantages and assets. Market and advertise them better. Past efforts by local business orgs, while well intended, had little, positive affect on home values and tourism trends.
  • Increase marketing of our island as a good place to retire and as a family hometown to a wider area.
  • Improve our schools’ academic performance to encourage families to become year-round residents.
  • Let’s have more cooperation among local organizations, businesses, residents and government to generate ideas and work to achieve them.
  • Reduce having same handful of insiders placed on committees. Some call them re-treads. Some call them placeholders or puppets.

Brigantine City Council recently appointed 4 people (mayor, deputy mayor, former State Assemblyman from Brigantine and the Chamber president) to the Economic Development, Tourism and Special Events Advisory Commission. What does it do? Does it have public meetings? It appears that it could be more effective and transparent in fulfilling its title.


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10 thoughts on “Tough Love for Brigantine: Schools, Business and Real Estate Trends in 2018.”

  1. Been a 45 plus year visitor/home owner.
    Brig needs new leadership.
    When Wildwood bungelows sell for 60k more than Brig something is wrong. Where are the ads and events to attract more visitors. The money saved from golf mortgage payoff sb directed at marketing. It will probable go for more pay raises. Mgr. Stinson’s sudden leaving and the duplicate school admin are cause for concern. It is obvious Brig pols care less about taxpayers.

  2. I completely agree with everything in the above post. What I struggle with is the fact that these topics are never resolved and are just talked about over and over and over. I posted on this site in 2014 complaining about the same issues (2nd homeowner tax base, two fully staffed schools, business as usual policies, arrogance/attacks on anyone who questions the status quo).

    I’m quite confident the winds of changes will soon blow into Brigantine. Nothing like a good independent investigation to flush out the insiders and their backroom antics. The second homeowners are ready to make their move. We will have the ability to vote and elect honest officials whose primary interests/goals will be doing what’s right for Brigantine now and in the future. When the filth is finally washed from the council meetings and government offices it will then be time to celebrate…..Until then keep the pressure on these clowns

    1. As a permanent resident I am concerned. Great paper and am hopeful things will turn around as it is a great place to retire.

  3. The high cost of government is the problem. Clearly the City Councils primary objective is to continue to support their public employee base. When salary costs consume 70% of revenue, no business or government can survive. Businesses cannot arbitrarily raise prices. Governments can arbitrarily raise taxes and fees and Brigantines does a very good job. Close down one school. Get rid of longevity pay. These are economic decisions that need to be addressed if there is any hope of stabilizing Brigantines population base. If you are using the vitality of the City as a measure, Guenthers legacy is a failed one.

  4. Everyone who comments here on a Dec 2018 column is not only 9 months old, but also writes exactly the same way without any solutions to their issues.

  5. You’ll never attract either young families or older retirement folks….ever ! The young can’t afford it and the older people are being taxed out of their homes every single year !!! Soon there will only be 5000 regular year around residents, just wait you’ll see. Wake up city counsel, this isn’t rocket science. Sky High Taxes are ridiculous, for what…..500 kids ? Really? Two schools for 500 kids really ? 70% of the budget to support the salaries of the government, are you kidding ? $100k – $130K salaried firemen? For what, a couple dozen events per year ? You know who has those jobs, right ? Government meetings with no agenda, no minutes recorded. Should I continue ?
    Hey NCP, here’s the solution – It’s long past time for the old guard to move out, get real government officials with fiscal accountability and outlaw the nepotism in favor of real professionals at real market sustainable, operable salaries that make sense, not islanders wealthy.

    Taxation with no representation…..really ? I thought that went out against the British in the revolutionary war. And you wonder why the population is decreasing ? You treat the island’s MAIN financial supporters (2nd home owners) as 2nd class citizens.

    1. How do you figure the Fire Department has a couple dozen events a year? 4 or 5 EMS runs A DAY alone are not uncommon. Remember, for Fire Department salaries you are getting 2 services, Fire AND EMS. Most other cities in this County have these services as separate therefore 2 salaries

  6. Yes but most don’t have firemen making one and half fire calls per day or 500 plus a year.
    And if they do, they aren’t paying 100k plus salaries. Use to be up till two years ago,
    fireman went from 40kish as a rookie to 100k in 8 years. cops did it in 5 years.
    Name me a job that does that and still exists. If it does, they are fat and happy like Brig.

    1. they do 1600 ambulance calls a year or 5 per day but the whole staff does not do ambulance calls.
      In most small cities AtlanticCare does it and it don’t cost 100k a person to do it..
      When you have half the full time population you had 20 years ago, why no changes.
      Job protection pure and simple. It has nothing to do with public safety..All scare tactics..

  7. Christopher Gaul

    Thanks for your clarification on the number of emergency “events” / yr., and for concurring on the ridiculous costs, job protection (nepotism) and lack of change in Brigantine. We (family) are strongly, currently considering relocation to a community that appreciates the fiscal tax base (2nd Home Owners), and a local government that is also accountable and looking to the future, not one that is trying to preserve and protect the past. We have been vacationing / owners in Brigantine for 50yrs.

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