The Avalon Borough Council introduced the 2019 municipal budget that totals $27,855,139 and includes no increase in the municipal tax rate, water and sewer rates, and beach tag fees. This budget substantially moves the Borough towards a position of eliminating long term debt. The budget was unanimously introduced by Council by title only and will be presented to the public hearing at April 10th Council meeting at 4:00 PM.
“My office, Borough Council, and our department heads worked as a team to hold the line on spending this year while also improving the level of municipal services and working towards a goal of eliminating long-term debt in future budgets”, said Avalon Mayor Martin Pagliughi. “This budget is responsible, conservative, and is a product of the past and future management of the Borough’s finances and assets”.
Avalon will maintain its municipal tax rate of .199, which is the lowest in Cape May County. Avalon’s overall tax rate which includes municipal, county, library, open space, and school taxes is believed to be the lowest among all developed communities in the State of New Jersey. Avalon maintains an exemplary AAA bond rating from Standard and Poor’s which saves the Borough hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest payments, and will maintain a healthy $3.5 million in surplus after the 2019 budget is adopted. The 2019 budget appropriates $6.6 million to fund capital projects and debt payments.
The Borough has moved towards the elimination of long term, general obligation debt through a variety of conservative fiscal practices. Avalon has more than 20 shared services and privatization agreements that improve services while saving on salaries, pension, and health benefits and has a “pay as you go” approach to capital projects with larger down payments than required by law. With the elimination of long term debt, future budgets will be able to pay off bond anticipation notes rapidly, and may even result in the elimination of bond anticipation notes in approximately five years. The Borough has secured millions of dollars in partnerships and grants for major projects along the beaches and bay front, and for major capital projects including $2 million for Surfside Park. Courtesy of extremely favorable bond ratings from Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s, Avalon has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars with bonds, and the refinancing of existing debt.
In 2019, Avalon is expected to finance $1.671 million in various capital improvement projects. Capital improvement projects occurring in 2019 include, but are not limited to: Maintenance dredging project in a portion of Pennsylvania Harbor; a sand back passing project to restore north end beaches in advance of a hydraulic beach fill project; the completion of the much-anticipated Surfside Park recreation area; improvements to Avalon Community Hall; emergency communication technologies, and the completion of environmental initiatives; continued design for a major drainage project; and assorted other projects.
Avalon continues to seek grant funding and shared services agreements that helps keep the current tax rate low and finances various projects. In past decade, Avalon has secured tens of millions of dollars for beach projects, environmental initiatives, road improvements, storm damage repairs, and resiliency initiatives. The Borough will expand its cultural and recreational opportunities with new activities at Surfside Park, new sports camps and recreational initiatives, and an expansion of the Avalon History Center that will provide meeting space and opportunities for the Center and other volunteer organizations in the community.
Avalon remains in a leadership position with various resiliency issues that involve both the back bay area and the beachfronts. The Borough has its own standalone Floodplain Management Committee assembled by volunteers and department heads; received grant funding to study areas that are impacted by tidal flooding events; continue its planning for flood relief in our north end beach blocks; and continue with the planning and implementation of rehabilitation to the 8th Street Jetty that was damaged by Winter Storm Jonas.