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Lavallette Hopes To Open New Borough Hall In December

Lavallette's new municipal building under construction. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Lavallette’s new municipal building under construction. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

If construction continues at the current pace, borough officials will begin 2016 with a reorganization meeting in its new borough hall — possibly the first meeting after the building opens its doors.

Officials said that borough hall will likely be open in December. The old building was demolished after Superstorm Sandy and borough officials approved plans for the larger more modern facility taking shape in the old hall’s spot on Route 35 North.

“We hope to be in the new building in December,” said Mayor Walter Cicero. “Hopefully we’ll have the first meeting of the new year in there.”

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The borough council currently meets in the Lavallette First Aid Building on Washington and Bay Boulevard and operates out of trailers.

The new municipal complex will be larger than the former municipal building. The combined municipal building and police headquarters will encompass 13,000 square feet, about twice the size of the building it is replacing.

The borough is planning to have FEMA reimburse about $2.5 million of the estimated $4.5 million cost of the building, and is appealing the agency’s decision on how much to reimburse the borough. Previously, FEMA’s determination was the site had suffered about $100,000 in damage. The borough estimates it had $2.5 million in costs just to repair the damaged building, and built a new facility that includes what FEMA would call “critical infrastructure” such as a police station.

Borough Administrator Christopher Parlow had itemized the cost to repay its bonds for the project, whether using shorter term borrowing with a lower interest rate or a long-term one with higher interest.

Cicero explained that with the bonds paying for Superstorm Sandy projects totaling $9.792 million, and FEMA grants reimbursing a portion of those costs after projects are complete, Lavallette could likely see $5.5 million in FEMA reimbursement.

That would leave the borough with about $4.5 million out of its pocket. Of that, the borough hall would account for $2 million, officials said.

The mayor would recommend Lavallette repay the bonds for that over a longer repayment period. The maximum is 33 years, Parlow said.

Cicero said the down side is a higher interest rate than shorter term bonds, but when divided out over so long a term, there is less of an impact on borough finances.

“With a building that could last for 55-100 years, why have so short a term that we are paying for it today, when this could be a burden shared with two, three generations?” said the mayor, part of a discussion on the borough’s finances at the September 21 meeting.

However, revenue from a “Buy a Board” dedicated boardwalk board campaign would offset these expenses for $400,000. Plus, there’s an estimated $500,000 in revenue from building department fees and applications since Sandy, officials said.

At its October 5 meeting, the Lavallette council will decide whether $500,000 more should be tacked on to its bond ordinance, upping the total owed to $10.475 million.

Parlow said the original bond ordinance had used all but $207,000 of its original amount, while projects left to complete were likely $345,000 above that amount. Besides borough hall, the lifeguard station also needs to be complete.

Council recommended the amount be increased not by $345,000 but by $500,000, “just so we do not have to make another amendment to the bond ordinance if we end up needing more,” Cicero said.

“If it is more than is needed, the debt can always be canceled,” Parlow explained.

That would leave about $700,000 in the budget for the remaining borough hall and lifeguard headquarters construction, said the business administrator.

The lifeguard headquarters would likely be bid in October to be complete in time for next season.

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