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Mayor: Sea Isle “as Strong as It’s Ever Been”

Sea Isle City Mayor Leonard Desiderio giving his State of the City address March 12.

By Vince Conti

SEA ISLE CITY — Mayor Leonard Desiderio declared that Sea Isle is “as strong as it’s ever been” in his annual State of the City address before the council on Tuesday, March 12.

Desiderio early on focused on the soon-to-be-constructed community center, a $21 million facility that he said would be “a hub for citizen gatherings, recreation, leisure programs and activities, special events and, quite frankly, things that we’ll have in the future that we haven’t developed yet.” He added that the facility should be completed in 2025.

Staying with municipal projects, the mayor next talked about the replenishment of the beaches. The third replenishment under a 50-year agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers is set to begin in the next two weeks.

The mayor announced that an extra $5 million worth of sand will be incorporated into the project above the base amounts identified in the initial bid process. He equated the additional sand to what would “fill 50 football fields 4 feet deep.”

Desiderio acknowledged the repetitive nature of the beach fill process, with its cycles of erosion and replenishment, and praised the “tremendous benefits of being part of the federal 50-year program.” He said he would “continue to work in an environmentally responsible manner with nature to assure the continued vitality of our most precious natural resources – our beaches.”

Other capital projects highlighted in the address included the north end dog park currently under construction and planned improvements to the Promenade, which will benefit from a $2 million grant from the state’s boardwalk preservation program.

The mayor spoke about the maintenance of public assets and infrastructure, mentioning the road and utility work underway in the city.

Concerning financial management, Desiderio talked of the inflationary pressures of the last three years as well as the need to increase spending for first responders. Adding stipends to the volunteer Fire Department will ensure duty crew presence around the clock throughout the year, he said. He added that the city would go forward this year with 10 full-time positions in the EMS workforce; just seven years ago, EMS was a completely volunteer organization.

The mayor called this budget year an anomaly, saying that inflationary pressures could no longer provide the services “that our residents and visitors expect” without the infusion of new revenue in the budget. He announced a 4.3-cent increase in the local purpose tax rate.

He mentioned the city’s level 3 rating in the FEMA Community Rating System and the double A bond rating the city maintains. The level 3 rating provides a 35% discount on premiums in the National Flood Insurance Program for city property owners.

Desiderio pointed to the continued rise in property values and the importance of ensuring that “all of the vital aspects of a shore community necessary for long-lasting viability are maintained and improved.”

On the city water and sewer utility, he said, “Our water and sewer infrastructure is in excellent condition.” He added that the rates paid by the utility’s customers will remain the same in 2024 for the 11th straight year: “Everyone in Sea Isle is paying no more for the service than they did in 2013.”

Reporter

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

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