The Avalon Borough Council formally introduced the 2018 municipal budget at the Wednesday, February 28th Council meeting. The budget totals $27,862,847.25 and includes a 2.7 cent reduction in the municipal tax rate. A full budget presentation will be held at the Wednesday, March 28th meeting of the Avalon Borough Council by Council Finance Committee members Dr. Nancy Hudanich and Charles Covington. Council will vote on the budget following that presentation.
“This municipal budget is further evidence that the Borough manages its finances to meet current and long-term needs in our community”, said Avalon Mayor Martin Pagliughi. “Our financial management practices, debt management, and a recent reassessment contribute to the a reduction in the municipal tax rate while funding necessary programs and capital projects that will enhance the quality of life in Avalon”.
Avalon’s municipal tax rate will be reduced to .199 cents, and includes the municipal levy for Avalon’s perennial five-star free public library; as a result, Avalon does not contribute to the County library tax. With the factor of the .032 municipal library deducted from the Avalon municipal tax rate, the 2018 municipal tax rate in Avalon is lower than all 2017 municipal tax rates in Cape May County. The general tax rate establishes a property owner’s individual tax bill and includes the municipal tax, school tax, county tax, open space tax, and library tax. The general tax rate charged to Avalon property owners is the lowest in Cape May County due largely to a further reduction in the municipal tax rate.
The Borough of Avalon maintains an exemplary AAA bond rating from Standard and Poor’s which saves the Borough hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest on debt payments. Avalon also anticipates ending 2018 with a budget surplus of approximately $7.3 million which stabilizes future budgets and provides the Borough with funding shall an emergent situation occur. Avalon will not increase the cost of beach tags in 2018, and will experience a small decrease in its water and sewer fund. This budget also falls far below the state-imposed spending cap, and the two percent levy cap.
“Smart, responsible budgets never happen by accident nor are driven by election years; in Avalon, they are a result of short and long term budget planning, anticipating future expenses, paying four times the required amount as down payments on capital projects, and numerous privatization and shared services agreements that improve services, and reduce costs”, Mayor Pagliughi said. “Councilmembers Hudanich and Covington meet with our Finance Office throughout the year to ensure that we remain on track in future years for responsible budgets”.
Avalon has been able to stabilize and at times reduce its municipal tax rate with shared services agreements that improve the level of Borough services while simultaneously reducing expenses. These shared services agreements include, but are not limited to:
-Joint dispatching services with the Borough of Stone Harbor
-Privatization of solid waste, recycling, brush collection
-Privatization of management of the water/sewer/storm water system
-Privatization of landscaping/grounds maintenance
-Shared services agreements for Chief Financial Officer, Court Administrator, courtroom video, management of local public access television channel
-Shared services agreement with Cape May County for vehicle fleet maintenance
In 2018, Avalon will finance $5,329,380 worth of capital projects of which nearly $2 million will be funded through the Cape May County Open Space Program. By committing funding to the necessary repairs of the 8th Street Jetty and the construction of the new Surfside Park adjacent to Avalon Community Hall, the Borough will receive over $3.5 million in grant funding for these projects. Avalon also plans improvements to various bulkheads in the community; the purchase of a new fire truck for the Avalon Volunteer Fire Department; improvements to Bay Park Marina and the Sport Fishing Center; and other amenities.