As a courtesy to our SHPOA Members, we’re bringing you a summary of each Stone Harbor Work Session and Council Meeting. Intended as summaries, these intentionally don’t have a lot of details and are not a substitute for the official Borough minutes.
Working Session Highlights
Beach patrol building, Pavilions and Grant Applications
The Beach Patrol building has received a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy, which means the building is substantially complete and that the remaining unfinished items do not compromise the safety of the building.
The 88th Street and 101st Street pavilions are set to be rebuilt. Bids have been accepted and the work is expected to commence soon.
The Borough is completing applications for the following grants:
FEMA Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) Program – For potential use in funding the 93rd Street Pumping Station. BRIC gives grants so communities can protect themselves from natural disasters.
Flood Program – To develop flooding solutions, particularly for the areas between 80th and 99th Street.
Borough Administrator Bob Smith noted that the BRIC Program is currently receiving much more funding than historically approved.
Council plans to vote on approval of the grant application process at the 10/18/22 Council Meeting.
Assessments, Wedding Guidelines
Tax Assessor Margaret Slavin reported that September was a busy month, with lots of activity.
Stone Harbor’s Assessment Ratio for 2023 (the measurement of the overall ratio of the total assessed value of residential property vs. the full market value of the property) has fallen to 66.62% from 80.88% last year. This means that SH is “under-assessed” and could result in an increase in the Borough’s portion of Cape May County Tax. It was noted by Council that this drop in assessment ratios is across the board in the County, as market values have risen rapidly year-over-year and therefore could result in a “leveling up” Countywide. Council agreed to monitor market behavior and the impact on our County Tax obligation.
Borough Clerk Kim Stevenson presented proposed guidelines for Beach and Pavilion weddings which, if approved, could result in a $250 fee per event as well as strict criteria including site usage and time limits.
Council plans to vote on this proposal at its next meeting.
Beach Tags and Budget
CFO Jim Craft reported that Beach Tag revenues totaled $1.8 million in 2022 and were sufficient to cover expenses for Beach Taggers, Beach Trash Removal, and Beach Patrol. The number of seasonal tags sold dropped by 2000 vs. 2021, which is more than normal. It was noted anecdotally that many Avalon tags were observed by the Beach Taggers, presumably due to the use of “cheaper” Avalon tags as allowed under our reciprocity agreement. It was further noted that Avalon beach tag costs should reach parity with Stone Harbor in 2 – 3 years.
CFO Craft is working on the first draft of the 2023 budget, which is due by 11/21/22. After a long vetting process, the final budget adoption date is slated for 3/31/23.
Trash, Beaches, Bridges, and Flooding
Trash Pickup – There is a new link for trash pickup requests on the Borough Website www.stoneharbornj.org
Beaches – The beaches are closed due to the damage and potential danger following Storm Ian, as emergency vehicles cannot presently access the beaches in the event of an incident. The Borough is awaiting the Department of Environmental Protection’s approval of an emergency authorization request for beach repair work to commence. Public Works Director Manny Parada noted that the recent storm was atypical, in that the North end beaches were also scarped and many are very dangerous.
Flooding – A bayside stormwater management pilot program is being worked on as a stopgap toward the ultimate implementation of a new pumping station. This program will involve butterfly valves on the outfall pipes between 9200 and 9500 Sunset Drive. The valves will be manually closed during high tide events and re-opened at low tide, which should help mitigate street flooding. The project entails a relatively small financial investment. The Borough has received bids from 3 contractors. If successful, the process can be automated in the future.
Bridge Reconstruction – Cape May County began work on the 104th Street Bridge, which is structurally sound but needs repair. Underwater work began earlier this month and surface work is expected to begin soon. No parking is allowed on the bridge during construction.
The Ocean Drive bridge is scheduled to undergo major reconstruction beginning in December. The bridge would be passable via one lane.
Playgrounds – Inspections are underway.
Water & Sewer Rates Going Up and Curbside Watering Going Down
Due to a county Municipal Utilities Authority price increase, an ongoing lead project, and a heavy debt load at Stone Harbor Utility, the Borough Council plans to introduce an ordinance to raise our rates by 8 percent.
Councilwoman Bunny Parzych, chair of the utilities committee, gave an extensive explanation saying that water and sewer utility costs must be funded by water and sewer receipts only.
The county MUA processes our sewage and their fees have risen substantially over the past few years. Stone Harbor can no longer subsidize those increasing fees.
The state requires the Borough to rid all lead from water and sewer lines by 2031. The cost is about $600,000 a block and the job is less than halfway done. Additionally, the utility has about $27.5 million in debt.
The ordinance also would propose a reduction in the current flat rate levels overall and pro-rate the balance according to usage by individual properties.
Curbside Watering – Spray head watering of curb strips (the area between the sidewalk and the street) is prohibited as of January 1, 2023. Options are drip lines, stones, permeable surface materials, and no water (turn it off).
Borough Council Meeting
Ordinance 1614 – Creating a Position of Deputy Borough Clerk – Taken up, Passed on 2nd, Advanced to 3rd. Unanimous.
Ordinance 1616 – Establishing a Utilities Division with The Borough of Stone Harbor Department of Public Works – 2nd Reading. Councilmember Parzych voted No. All others Yes.
Ordinance 1619 – Brush & Grass Ordinance introducing the prohibition of invasive species. Passed on 1stReading and will advance to the November Council Meeting.
Resolution 2022 – S-172 – Contract award to Vulcan Construction for beach, ramp and pavilion reconstruction at 88th Street and Beach. $460,000 cost. Passed – Unanimous.
Resolution 2022 – S-173 – Emergency approval for after hours lifeguard protection. Passed – unanimous.
Resolution 2022 – S-174 – Supports NJ State Senate and Assembly bills authorizing $25 – $50 million in NJ State Shore Protection funds. Passed – unanimous.
Resolution 2022 – S-175 – Awards 114th Street sanitary street sewer main rehab. Passed – unanimous.
Resolution 2022 – S-177 – Appoints a JIF (Joint Insurance Fund) Safety Coodinator. Passed – unanimous.
Resolution 2022 – S-178 – Council convened a private discussion.
A resident at 93rd & Sunset Drive reported that the Borough-owned 93rd Street bulkhead is leaking. Councilman Reese Moore responded that the Borough is aware. Mayor Judy Davies-Dunhour affirmed the Borough is aware and it is being addressed.
For documents discussed at this meeting, please click: https://stoneharbornj.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Regular-Meeting-Agenda-10.7.22.pdf
To view a video of the meeting, please click: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCz4yFQEnYU