Seaside Heights will receive $1,016,000 from two sources to cover a budget gap brought on by a tax base still recovering from Superstorm Sandy, but the borough will also be under state monitoring more commonly associated with distressed urban municipalities.
Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz said he learned Wednesday afternoon that the town will receive $266,000 from a state aid package recently announced by Gov. Chris Christie to help cover the cost of the repayment of community disaster loans left over from Sandy. But the major source of aid, $750,000 in state transitional aid, will prompt the appointment of a state monitor to oversee the borough’s fiscal dealings.
Transitional aid is most commonly provided to urban municipalities whose tax bases cannot financially support the operation of the government. In the case of Seaside Heights, however, the funding will be used to make up for a loss of tax ratables in the storm that have yet to recover, thus creating a shortfall in the borough’s operating budget.
Vaz said officials will meet with the monitor – an employee of the Division of Local Government Services within the state Department of Community Affairs – in the coming weeks. The monitor will review spending and new hires over the course of the year.
With the increased scrutiny will come a review of the borough’s finances from within, said Mayor Anthony Vaz.
“We’re going to look at our total package,” the mayor said. “There’s no guarantee that next year we’re going to get this money.”
Now that the aid package has been approved, Christopher Vaz said officials will begin the process of adding the revenue into the borough’s operating budget for 2016, which has yet to be formally approved. The 2016 tax rate will likely be finalized at the next meeting of the borough council, scheduled for Sept. 21.