Lavallette’s municipal property tax rate will remain stable – and will likely maintain the borough’s status in boasting the state’s lowest average rate – in 2022, officials said Monday night.
The council unanimously introduced the borough’s 2022 spending plan, which will rise by $162,366, or 1.7 percent.
“Due to reserves in revenue, we’ll be able to offset that,” said Borough Administrator Robert Brice, confirming that the municipal tax rate will stand at .255 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.
Appropriations this year, in the budget as introduced, will add up to $9,391,910. The final adoption of the budget has been scheduled for the May 2 council meeting, where a public hearing will be held on the plan before a second vote is called to formally adopt it.
“Some of the more significant appropriations this year are due to salaries,” said Brice, explaining that some of the borough’s unionized employees have been working without a new contract for two years and will likely see salary increases once negotiations are settled.
“Besides that, frankly, everything costs more,” Brice said.
Mayor Walter LaCicero noted the example of redecking portions of the boardwalk. Given the cost of lumber and materials, a plan that called for the replacement of two blocks worth of decking would not even cover the cost of a single block. Back to the operating budget, insurance costs have also skyrocketed, according to officials in numerous Shore area communities, including Lavallette.
“The most significant [increase] is our general liability insurance that went up $25,000, to 275,000,” said Brice.
The county’s Joint Insurance Fund, he said, has raised premiums due to a large number of workers’ compensation claims resulting from the coronavirus pandemic as well as significant cyber attacks on municipal infrastructure across the county – mainly ransomware attacks in which computers and records are blocked until a “ransom” is paid to a hacker.
Lavallette has not suffered any cyber attacks, Brice said, but many local municipalities have and insurance premiums are accounting for the emerging threat.
LaCicero said this year’s capital spending plan will include the purchase of two garbage truck chassis in order to prepare for a refreshing of the borough’s fleet.
“We had three of them go down in one week, forcing us to use the recycling truck, which always makes a mess,” LaCicero said, adding that some of the current trucks are more than 25 years old.
The plan, the mayor said, is to purchase two chassis in this year’s budget and two compactors in next year’s budget, splitting the costs over two tax years, but ultimately purchasing two fully-new rigs.
“We’re not going to see these for another year, but we’re thinking ahead,” said LaCicero.”Some of them are over 25 years old, and it’s time.”