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SEA ISLE CITY – This city's administration organized its budget town hall meeting Feb. 16 at Council Chambers in City Hall for the 2017 proposed figures. 

On Feb. 14 at City Council's regular meeting, Mayor Leonard Desiderio gave his State of the City address. In it he mentioned some of the budget priorities that will be considered by council at its next meeting Feb. 28.

At that time, the city administration will present its budget and actual figures for introduction and first reading by council.

These include:

* Provision of EMS (emergency medical services) wages and other compensation as the city moves from an all-volunteer ambulance corps to a paid service.

* Flood management.

* Amenities such as biking enhancements.

The addition of a paid squad will cost about $500,000, according to Business Administrator George Savastano who added that the cost includes pension and benefits for eight to 10 full-time employees. Savastano indicated that the city’s intent is to hire, where possible, the previous EMS volunteers for these new positions.

He expects that the new EMS hires will be in place by the summer. Councilman John Divney led a conversation about the need to encourage county decision makers to consolidate EMS services within the county. Divney noted that a consolidation would save the 16 municipalities in the county money.

The budget session attracted a small number of residents and property owners who had the opportunity to ask questions, provide comments and feedback and to request more details on certain items.

While none provided any input to council, a number did express appreciation for the city’s ongoing efforts to keep them informed about all aspects of city administration, most especially on such an important topic as the budget and finances.

The 2017 budget represents a tax rate increase of $0.7 cents per $100 of assessed property value which equates to a 1.9-percent increase in tax rate over 2016.

The tax rate will go from 37.6 cents to 38.3 cents per $100 of valuation, Savastano said. He said the utility tax levy would remain flat. Thus, for a home valued at $700,000, the municipal tax bill will increase by $49 to $2,681. This rate does not include county or school taxes.

The surplus fund balance as of Jan. 1 was $3.8 million which contrasts, per Savastano, to an $800,000 surplus in 2009, less than 10 years ago. The city's debt service is slightly less than in 2016 even including year-over-year financing of the new City Hall through the municipal bond sale.

To contact Camille Sailer, email csailer@cmcherald.com.

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