Work Session Meeting
As a courtesy to our SHPOA Members, we’re bringing you this summary of the Stone Harbor Council Meeting on March 16, 2021.
Run, Run, Run
During its March 16, 2021 work session, Council heard Recreation Department plans for upcoming events including a virtual 5K and two-mile walk. The “Harbor Hop” is planned for April 3, 2021. Participants have the full month of April to complete. Details can be found on the Borough website at https://stoneharbornj.org/event/harbor-hop-virtual-5k/.
For Memorial Day weekend, a beach “Color” run/walk is being planned, where participants receive T-shirts and color starch is applied at stations during the run.
A 911 Memorial race is being considered on the 20th anniversary of the deadly attack, with runners going between the 911 memorials in Stone Harbor and Avalon.
The Stone Harbor Shiver will be a virtual event this year, and details will soon be posted on the Borough website.
Our Natural Resources
A Snowy Owl was lost in Avalon last month. An autopsy showed the bird died following ingestion of another bird which was infected with rat poison. The Natural Resources Department encourages residents to use kinder methods of rodent control, such as ultrasonic pest control devices.
Stone Harbor, Avalon and North Wildwood have a joint agreement to pursue legal remedies to open up Hereford inlet for coastal beach renourishment. There is an active lawsuit by the Audubon Society to block this action, and the three communities will need to replenish the legal fund to continue to pursue the suit.
During its regular March 16, 2021 meeting, Council’s finance and legal officers discussed the State Local Finance Board’s denial of a budget cap waiver, to cover costs of converting the Fire Department from volunteer to paid positions. As a result, the Borough is making cuts, including deferring Public Works Department raises for six months to save about $118,000.
James Craft, the Borough financial officer, presented the amended budget which is now under both the 2% levy and the appropriations cap. The budget changes include approximately $300,000 in expense reductions. The total budget increase for 2021 is now $1.07 million, and the increase in the tax levy is $1.7 million. This represents an increase in the Borough tax rate from 26.7 cents to 30.0 cents per $1,000. A $2.8 million home would pay about $870 more in additional local tax.
The largest spending increase is wages of $516,000, with the majority coming from the Fire Department ($425,000), Public Works ($118,000) and Beach Patrol ($41,000). Social Security increased $63,000 and pension costs went up $59,000.
The amended budget can be found here: https://stoneharbornj.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Detail-Budget-Report-Current-Fund-Updated-3_17_21.pdf
Mayor Judith Davies-Dunhour noted the benefits of a long-term financial plan and voiced support for such a plan.
Council plans to vote on the budget during its second April meeting. Before that though, Council scheduled special work sessions on March 23 and March 24, both at 4:30pm, which will be open to the public. Meeting details, including zoom information, has been sent to you in a prior Beach Blast and can also be found on the front page of the Borough website.
Also, the Stone Harbor Property Owners Association letter to Council concerning the budget was read into the record. Here it is: Letter to Mayor, Council, and Borough Administration.
A recent article in the Cape May Herald provides a good update on the current budget deliberations and can be found at https://www.capemaycountyherald.com/news/government/article_20a9f9d4-8b3f-11eb-8559-276f283e21e2.html.
Council gave preliminary approval to an amended storm water management ordinance, which previously failed to pass due to issues around drip irrigation between the street curb and the sidewalk. The current version of the ordinance eliminates the sections that deals with the zone from the sidewalk to the street.
Council gave preliminary approval to an ordinance to build three paddle tennis courts at 96th Street. The original estimate was $150,000. The latest estimate is $320,000.
The meeting can be watched here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJ8DngKhUIw.
If you are not already a member of SHPOA and own property in Stone Harbor, please join SHPOA by clicking https://dev.stoneharborpoa.org/join/