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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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Stone Harbor Rescinding 2024 Budget, Adopting a New One

Stone Harbor Rescinding 2024 Budget, Adopting a New One

By Vince Conti

Budget
Kemal Taner/Shutterstock.com

STONE HARBOR – The Borough Council is planning to rescind its 2024 budget and the budget amendment adopted on April 16 at its Tuesday, May 7, meeting. The resolutions to rescind were published as legal notices prior to the May 7 meeting.

According to Chief Financial Officer James Craft, the May 7 meeting will also see a new amendment and a new budget adopted. This means the tax levy and the appropriations in the general purpose budget will not change appreciably, or the borough would have to readvertise the budget, falling back to where it was when the budget was reintroduced.

On April 16, the council adopted a $22.2 million budget for 2024 that raised the local purpose tax rate by 1 cent. Prior to adoption, the budget was amended to move some funds and to add $13 million to the six-year capital budget, increasing that budget from $31.2 million to $44 million. Some of the changes covered by the amendment were due to a state review of the budget.

The $13 million added to the capital plan was for water and sewer projects, and the amendment adopted at the April 16 meeting placed the full amount in the first two years of the six-year plan. This caused the plan to appear heavy in those first two years, with two-thirds of the total estimated cost of the plan accounted for in 2024 and 2025.

Balancing the six-year capital plan is a likely target of a new amendment to the 2024 budget since it would not require restarting the budget process and readvertising the budget.

Water and sewer utility debt is technically an obligation of the ratepayers and not included in the property tax levy.

Stone Harbor did adopt new water rates for 2024, but these were directed at heavy users of water and were expected to generate around $210,000, according to the utility budget.

In terms of debt service in the utility budget, in 2023 the borough budgeted and paid 42% of the water and sewer utility’s appropriation to debt service. In the 2024 budget, as adopted on April 16, 48% of the appropriations are directed at debt service. Part of that increase is due to a higher than usual amount, $500,000 higher than 2023, budgeted for paying bond anticipation and capital notes.

Contact the author, Vince Conti, at vconti@cmcherald.com.

Reporter

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

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