As Seaside Heights faces a difficult municipal budget scenario, the borough is seeking additional assistance from the state to replenish the dunes in the northern portion of town.
The dune berm built up last fall was largely washed away during the winter storm season, primarily during the Jan. 23 nor’easter. The state Department of Environmental Protection allotted the borough $400,000 for the purchase of additional sand to rebuild the dune, but the low bid returned after the borough solicited contractors was $585,000, according to Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz.
“Right now, the CFO and I have been trying to find a source of funding,” said Vaz.
The borough, due to a potential lack of Superstorm Sandy aid to make up for a loss in ratables that have yet to recover, is facing an 11 percent tax increase if a new round of federal disaster relief or state aid is fails to materialize. Given those circumstances, Vaz said, the borough is unable to appropriate additional revenue to close the gap, and is not comfortable bonding and placing additional debt service on the town’s taxpayers. Officials are seeking a meeting with state DEP Commissioner Bob Martin to discuss the issue and request additional financial relief.
“We’re going to ask for a meeting and tell him our circumstances are different than the other towns,” Vaz said.
Mayor Anthony Vaz said the borough has served as the staging point for the Route 35 reconstruction project and, in the future, will be the staging point for the entire beach replenishment project on Ocean County’s northern barrier island. Despite the extra traffic and impact on local infrastructure, the borough has not been compensated, the mayor said, so additional relief is justified in the case of the dunes.
In the mean time, the summer season will start with little to no dunes in the north end.
“We can’t award the contract until we know when we’re getting our portion of the money or until they change the cost share arrangement,” Christopher Vaz said.