By PETE WALTON
Bradley Beach Mayor Larry Fox is proposing a 20 percent increase in the amount of property taxes to be raised for municipal purposes.
At a workshop meeting earlier this month, Kim Humphrey, who left the post of borough administrator this week, gave the public and the Borough Council a nine-page slide presentation on the work she did with Chief Financial Officer Anthony Mannino regarding the budget.
Mannino was not present at the meeting due to a teaching commitment at Rutgers.
A $1.5 million increase in the amount taxpayers would be expected to pay was not mentioned at the workshop until Humphrey was questioned by Councilman Al Gubitosi, who has worked as a certified public accountant and auditor.
Humphrey acknowledged that the Fox budget proposal for municipal government purposes was $8.541 million — approximately $1.5 million more than the previous year’s total of $7.098 million.
“Statutorily, if you look at the increase like just our insurances, pensions, that, that’s more like that number right there,” Humphrey said, referring to the $8.5 million figure.
“A $1.5 million increase in that number on a base of $7 million is a lot, it’s 20 percent,” Gubitosi said. “This is a preliminary budget, a lot of work to do, but nobody’s suggesting this is anything close to…”
“There’s not much more cuts you can [make],” Humphrey responded quickly.
As he opened the workshop meeting, Fox said the borough was facing some “pretty significant statutory increases.”
“We hadn’t really received any healthcare cost increases in three years plus,” the mayor said. “Our healthcare costs in this town are going to go up about $700,000 in the budget this year. It reflects probably three years of accumulated increases, but it’s a significant amount if you think about our budget.”
Fox said there is a $270,000 increase in insurance costs, mainly attributed to the joint insurance fund in which Bradley Beach participates with other municipalities. The mayor said there will be a $60,000 increase in pension costs.
“This year is going to be a real challenge,” Fox said.
Gubitosi agreed that addressing the cost increases would be a challenge.
“I truly believe there are always alternatives,” he said.
“What’s disappointing is that the mayor and [the former] business administrator were working on the budget for months but didn’t share their proposal with the council until just before the [workshop] meeting,” Gubitosi said.
Fox said the council would be provided more information in the weeks following the workshop meeting.