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Lavallette Avoids Massive Tax Hike After Sandy Aid Denied

Lavallette Borough Hall (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Lavallette Borough Hall (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Lavallette has reduced what would have been a 16.43 percent tax hike to an increase of one penny per $100 of assessed real estate valuation by cutting its budget $692,617.

The borough had been hoping to receive a fourth Essential Services Grant to make up for the portion of its tax base that has yet to recover from Sandy, however state officials informed local municipalities this week that the federal government declined to provide the funding. Lavallette is one of several Shore towns that had to scramble to avoid a gargantuan property tax increase.

Mayor Walter LaCicero said the tax hike was avoided by using the borough’s surplus account to fund the operating budget. By using about $800,000 in surplus funding, residents will avoid the 16 percent increase, but will still be subject to a 3.5 percent hike on the municipal portion of their tax bills.

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“We are still experiencing some substantial pain from Sandy,” said LaCicero. “We have about one more year of that, after which I think the taxes will be in excellent condition.”

Lavallette is in the process of repaying loans it took to fund the cleanup and recovery of Sandy.

Previously, officials have said the bulk of the debt service is related to emergency borrowing that was conducted in the wake of Sandy.The borough owes $921,000 to AshBritt Inc., the company that was hired to remove debris following the storm. Lavallette’s total bill from AshBritt was about $9 million, Parlow said, with FEMA having picked up 90 percent of the cost. The remainder is due by 2017 since the bonding used to fund the cleanup was borrowed under emergency appropriations.

Another loan repayment is due next year.

The borough will raise $5,529,000 in tax revenue to support its $8,963,261 budget.

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