BELMAR, NJ — There’s good news to report on Belmar’s financial front.
At the borough council's October 1 meeting, officials announced a laundry list of cost savings and new revenues totaling nearly $900,000, prompting Mayor Mark Walsifer to table a final vote on a bond ordinance to finance $1.3 million in additional Superstorm Sandy-related expenses.
“We’ve had significant savings in the last 10 months,” Walsifer said. “We were going to put (the savings) in capital improvements projects … but because of the situation we’re in, we think that we should table (the bond ordinance), and take a look and see if we can handle it on our own without causing any more debt.”
At its September 17 meeting, the council introduced a bond ordinance after learning that the borough will not be able to recover $600,000 in professional services fees paid to the engineering firm improperly hired for the federally funded Lake Como stormwater outfall pipeline project and that it will need to repay $1 million to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding for its boardwalk rebuilding efforts. Click here to read more.
However, after discussions with Belmar chief finance officer Christine Manolio and borough auditor Robert Allison since that meeting two weeks ago, Walsifer said that the borough’s ongoing cost-savings effort is paying off.
For example, a 3,000-hour reduction in overtime pay over Labor Day resulted in $110,000 in savings, and “reworking” health care insurance for borough employees — and “the way we’ve hired people” — has cut those costs by another $500,000, Walsifer said.
The mayor also credited Business Administrator Edward Kirschenbaum with obtaining nearly $30,000 worth of donated furniture, equipment and supplies for borough offices, including 115 cases of copy paper which has a retail value of $7,700. “That may not seem like a lot, but every little bit helps,” Walsifer said. “We’re watching every penny.”
Kirschenbaum has partnered with a company that obtains office inventory donated from companies throughout the state that are relocating or downsizing. In turn, the company has donated to Belmar — at no cost to the borough — new or slightly used office furniture, equipment and supplies, he said.
In addition to the office paper, the borough has received all types of desks, tables, filing cabinets, bookcases and chairs, as well as exercise equipment, lockers, computer monitors, keyboard wrist supports and a heavy-duty paper shredder, among other items. They have furnished various municipal departments, offices, conference and lunch rooms throughout the borough.
In revenue-generating efforts, Councilman Thomas Carvelli said that the borough can expect to bring in some $211,000 in retroactive property tax payments by the end of the year. This is the result of having the tax assessor review closed-out projects to see whether proper or additional assessments were needed.
While the $211,000 is a “one-shot” revenue boost, the reassessment effort will result in some $100,000 more in tax revenues annually, Carvelli said.
Councilman James McCracken, liaison to the Department of Public Works, explained how the department is continuing down “the path of fiscal responsibility.”
In addition to reducing its work force by a total of seven — employing five less part-timers and not filling two full-time positions — it also has sold or scrapped military surplus equipment that the borough acquired at no charge after Superstorm Sandy, bringing in $34,000 in revenue.
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