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Seaside Heights Hoping for State Funding for Dune Berm, 2016 Budget

A rebuilt berm in Seaside Heights, Oct. 7, 2015. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

A rebuilt berm in Seaside Heights, Oct. 7, 2015. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Seaside Heights officials have signaled a need for state funding to maintain an emergency dune berm that was washed away during the Jan. 23 nor’easter, as well as continued aid to make up for lost ratables stemming from Superstorm Sandy.

The funding for the dunes would go toward a makeshift berm between Hiering and Carteret avenues that was lost to the storm. The money would come from the state Department of Environmental Protection. Officials said they confident that funding will be provided.

“We are working out the logistics with them now,” said Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz.

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The larger funding request is more uncertain, however, officials said. In 2015, the borough received $2.1 million under what was then known as an Essential Services Grant provided through both the state and federal governments. The grants, aimed at bridging the gap between the borough’s budgetary requirements and revenue lost from a reduction in the tax base due to Sandy, are not being offered this year, even though the need for such funding remains.

“The aggregate assessments haven’t been increasing as quickly as the state was anticipating,” said Vaz, who is joining with elected officials and administrators from across the Shore area to convince the state to continue the grants.

If the Essential Services Grant program is not revived, Seaside Heights will apply for what is known as transitional aid, a state program that provides temporary monetary support for municipalities facing unique fiscal issues. Though Seaside Heights would likely qualify for the program, officials hope participation can be avoided due to various restrictions and edicts the state can impose the municipal government.

“We would be on a very short leash with the [Department of Community Affiairs,” said Vaz. “A state monitor would be stationed here.”

Last year, the bulk of the Essential Services Grant funding was used toward police and water department employee salaries.

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