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City Manager Outlines Cape May’s Capital Spending Plans for 2024

City Manager Outlines Cape May’s Capital Spending Plans for 2024

By Vince Conti

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CAPE MAY CITY — Manager Paul Dietrich presented the city’s plans for capital spending for this year at the June 18 meeting of the City Council.

The presentation followed the introduction of three bond ordinances totaling just over $13 million at the June 5 council meeting. Those ordinances will come up for a public hearing on July 2.

The largest of the bond amounts was for $9.8 million, for general city improvements. That funding will be augmented by $1.1 million in budget dollars allocated to capital projects. A Water and Sewer Utility bond ordinance was for $1.8 million, and a bond ordinance for the Beach Utility was for $1.4 million.

The projects include vehicle purchases, information technology and office equipment purchases and tennis club updating, among others.

The 2024 road program will claim $2 million of the capital funding. Priorities in this year’s program will be streets with water main issues and those with lead service lines that the state mandates must be located and replaced.

A $1.5 million ordinance for the Water and Sewer Utility will be adding $1 million in funding for the water and sewer system repairs that are part of the road program. Utility bond funds are not a burden on taxpayers and are repaid by water/sewer user fees. Pedestrian “roads” are also part of the package, with funding for a sidewalk restoration project.

Funds for moving ahead with the plans for Lafayette Street Park are listed in the general bond ordinance at $2.5 million. The project will involve a variety of funding sources, and the city is looking to county open space funding and grant monies as well as its own capital funds.

Dietrich said the city in 2025 might plan for for additional funding for the new police station, which is at the edge of the park. The city is waiting for state approval of a Green Acres land swap to gain access to the preferred site for the station.

Some $2.1 million in the bond issue would support the purchase of a new fire truck to replace an aging vehicle that faces rapidly increasing maintenance costs.

The ordinance lists $1.1 million for electric trolleys to replace gas-powered trollies, part of an overall program of gradual transition to electric vehicles in the city fleet.

The recent state award of $6.7 million for Promenade renovations requires a match, and $700,000 in a separate bond ordinance for the city’s Beach Utility would provide those matching funds. The Beach Utility is funded through the sale of beach tags, and any bond debt would be covered by those fees.

Kevin Heine, the city’s chief financial officer, said at the June 5 council meeting that the strategy for taking on new debt is to do so as old debt “falls off,” thereby keeping debt service payments stable in the budget.

Heine stressed that the ordinances do not represent new debt. Debt is only introduced when the authorized bonds are actually sold.

Grant funding can significantly alter capital spending plans as well. Mayor Zack Mullock said the city is aggressively exploring many avenues of grant funding to reduce the need for municipal debt.

Reporter

Vince Conti is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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